Choosing Your Veterinarian
Posted on 03/20/2008 in Veterinarian's Corner.
Robert Baker, DVM
Veterinarians are health care professionals who are dedicated to protect the health and welfare of animals and people. Your selection of a veterinarian should be based on who will best serve you and your pet’s personal needs. It is a very good idea to have a working relationship established with your veterinarian long before your pet becomes ill.
The factors that go into choosing a veterinarian could be compared to the many factors that go into choosing other health care professionals, and this will differ with individual needs and desires. Some considerations might be as follows:
- Recommendations from friends, neighbors or relatives as a starting point, realizing their needs might be different that yours.
- Yellow page listing, although I would caution that the biggest and boldest ads should not necessarily be judged as superior or inferior to the smaller ones. Different veterinarians have different views about the necessities of advertisement.
- Location and hours –are they convenient for your needs?
- Could you obtain a recommendation from your current veterinarian when moving to a new area?
- Local breed specific clubs may have good recommendations.
INITIAL OFFICE VISIT:
- Is the staff warm, friendly and helpful in getting all my questions answered? The hospital staff is often times a direct reflection of the hospital's owner, although there are individual exceptions.
- Does the hospital offer in some manner the services you think you might need?
- Blood work
- Radiographs (x-rays)
- Conventional – spays, neuter, declaws
- Advanced – exploratory, cruciate surgery, fracture repair, etc.
- Types of anesthetics used and monitoring equipment
- Consultations: Other specialty clinics (eye, bone, cancer, etc.)
- Routine vaccinations, heartworm checks, fecals, etc.
- Care management
- Behavior consultation
- How is emergency service handled?
- Can I have my choice of which doctor I see?
- Is the hospital computerized or are the records still handwritten?
- How does the hospital handle the financial aspects of the client patient transaction? What are the methods of payment accepted?
- Does the hospital have a written brochure explaining its many services and policies? Ask for it.
- Professional affiliations: Is the hospital affiliated with any professional organizations (AVMA, AAHA)? Are the doctors associated with any of the professional organizations?
Since our pet’s illnesses can be subtle in nature, it is extremely important that the owner convey the signs and symptoms to us in a prompt and chronological (if possible) manner. When in doubt, please call and discuss your pet's symptoms (no matter how vague) with the staff. They, with the doctor’s assistance, should guide you to the proper course of action.