How to choose a veterinarian

Some veterinary hospitals are members of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). AAHA membership signifies that a veterinary hospital has voluntarily pursued and met AAHA's standards in the areas of facility, equipment, and quality care. Other veterinarians are board certified in a particular area of veterinary medicine such as ophthalmology, surgery, or cardiology, which means they studied an additional two to four years in the specialty area and passed a rigorous examination.

If you have an unusual breed or a dog that has an unusual condition, you should ask the vet if he is familiar with it. Ask him questions and be sure that you are comfortable with his response. Does he explain well or does he dismiss your questions?

Is there more than one vet working in the office? If there is more than one vet, do they have specialties? If so, can you request a certain vet? You may want to take the time to meet all the vets working in an office before you decide to see only one of them. Having multiple vets on staff ensures that all of them will have seen your pet at one time or another, and will not be total strangers to the animals.

What are your procedures for euthanasia?

Not a pleasant topic, but this is a bit of a "baited" question. If they simply tell me, "Well, we administer sodium whatever and then. . ." we're outa there. The answer we look for--and find--with quality, caring vets is more like this: "Well, FIRST we'd want to know why you want the dog/cat euthanized? Is it age, injury or what? We prefer to treat when possible, and if you simply no longer want the dog/cat or can no longer keep it, we'll be happy to charge you the same amount and foster it until we can find a new home for it."

Does the vet provide any other services such as boarding or grooming? If these are services that you require, they may be important factors in your decision.

Learn what is normal for your pet so you recognize the first signs of illness, and see your vet regularly for preventive visits, not only when your pet becomes ill. If a pet is not well, don't wait until she is really sick before calling your vet. It is frustrating for a vet, and heartbreaking to owners, to see an animal die of an illness that could have been treated successfully if professional care had begun sooner.

How many vets do you have on staff?

Having multiple vets on staff ensures that all of them will have seen your animal at one time or another within the first six months and not be total strangers to the animals or us and thus not be starting "from scratch."

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