For many dog owners, choosing their dog’s doctor is usually based on who their friends recommend or what they’ve heard at the park. But everybody’s dog is different, just like people. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a veterinarian may work better with certain breeds and animals (cats, dogs, and horses all frequent vets).
This leaves you wondering what you should be looking for in your dog’s doctor. There are several questions to ask them and a few observations you can make before you settle on a permanent choice you can trust with your dog’s well-being.
First of all, make sure that your vet is certified. Look for documentation which would usually be proudly posted on the office walls. In combination with that, you’ll also want someone who has quite a bit of experience with animals. Luckily, most people who pursue a lifetime working with animals feel passionately about their work, which is a great quality to have.
• Is your veterinarian clinic close or far away? You don’t want to be traveling long distances with an ill dog, especially if they tend to get motion sickness.
• What types of animals are they most familiar with? Some vets may be more familiar with cats than dogs, which may not be shown in their education but through their practices. Remember that all animals have unique physiologies, even between particular breeds.
• Is there a large staff or a small group of closely familiar employees? Keep in mind that dogs love habit and familiarity, and if they are constantly meeting new people who are handling them and doing medical procedures, it may not be the most comfortable environment for them.
• What are their office hours? Will they be available when you need them, or will their office and call hours make it difficult to schedule appointments and regular checkups?
• Are they available in case of an emergency? This is one of the biggest concerns, especially since this puts you in a tight situation in which there is often no getting out of. Many veterinarian hospitals will actually refer emergencies to a local emergency veterinary clinic, which will of course be another new experience for an already potentially frightened or injured dog. In addition, emergency veterinarians are often excruciatingly costly.
Next, you’ll want to ask around before settling on a certain office. Consider but don’t take to heart the recommendations you get. Simply get a feel and a bit of history on the best doctors, and do keep in mind what breed your sources own and if they are similar to yours. Different breeds, especially purebreds have specific traits and even genetic issues that are related to their breed only. It’s always good to have a doctor that is familiar with your dog’s physiology before they ever meet.
Also, keep in mind that veterinary offices don’t always rely on just one doggy doctor. There may be multiple veterinarians, making it hard on your dog if they have to visit a new doctor every time they go. On the positive side though, larger clinics do offer the option of being able to easily get a second opinion in certain matters.
Consider finding a practicing veterinarian who owns and or operates their own animal hospital. It may be preferable to find someone who practices primarily on dogs, and more importantly on your specific breed. Many of these individual practitioners are able to develop a closer relationship with your dog and many of them are more available in cases of emergency. Some even perform house-calls and checkups just to make sure everything is going great. Keep in mind though that you may not get the services of a kennel where you can leave your dog for extended periods while you’re out of town.
Like doctors, many veterinarians will make decisions based on their own point-of-view and current prognosis. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are always right. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion from a reputable source before undergoing any type of operation or surgery.
The last question you should always ask should be addressed to your dog. Do they get along with their doggy doctor? Or is there something they just don’t feel comfortable with when they’re with them? Dogs do have a good sense for judging who they are going to like and more importantly who they’ll cooperate with. Choose the best doggy doc for your pup to ensure not only their health but their happiness as well.