Guest post by Steven May
We all deal with the service industry. From dry cleaners to mechanics and everything in between there are times when we need to rely on the expertise of others to get things done right. And once we find that great dentist or plumber we tend to use them over and over. The hard part is finding them.
Pet owners know the importance in finding the right veterinarian. After all, we trust them to take care of our beloved friends and want to be assured they’re providing the best care possible. So how do we go about finding the right match for us? Is it just a matter of going to the veterinarian or animal hospital closest to your home or do we need to take a more active role?
Good pet owners will try to educate themselves as much as possible and with the massive amount of information now available online it’s become easier than ever before. From choosing a breed or even an animal that best suits our lifestyle to learning about any potential medical conditions they may encounter, we are now able to take out some of the guess work that comes with being a pet owner. But there are some things that can’t be accessed online such as the latest technological advancements in the veterinary industry and the kind of hands-on experience that a good veterinary doctor will possess.
I believe that veterinarians and owners must work together as a team. Each has a shared goal of a healthy, happy pet and a big part of reaching that goal is establishing a good rapport. We want to feel comfortable in communicating with our pet’s doctor and in return want to make sure they’re listening and responding to our needs and concerns.
Here are five Do's for choosing a veterinarian:
- Do Your Research Veterinarians are business owners and like any good business professional they need to attract clients. While some may have flashy websites or strong advertising campaigns that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right choice for you. One of the best things you can do when searching for the right veterinarian is to ask other pet owners who they use. Word of mouth is the best advertising there is and a glowing report from a trusted friend, family member or neighbor can start you off on the right foot. From there, you will want to do your own research on the doctor or facility. The American Animal Hospital Association will help you find fully accredited hospitals in your area. And as most legitimate pet care providers have websites you’ll be able to learn more about the staff, their specialties and other useful background information. Websites such as Yelp can be helpful as the reviews are coming directly from pet owners with personal experience with a doctor or hospital.
- Look Before You Leap: You wouldn’t buy a new car without first taking it for a test drive and you shouldn’t choose a veterinarian without first visiting the facility. Set an appointment to visit the facility with your dog. Pay attention to the cleanliness and organization of the facility, inquire in to how many doctors and assistants are on staff, if they have any specialties and how long they have been in operation.
- Curiosity Didn’t Really Kill the Cat: When meeting with a potential veterinarian for the first time the most important thing you can do is ask questions. Of course, you’ll want to make sure not to put someone on the defensive. This isn’t a trial. But if you start the conversation with the thought that this person could become a potential team member, and you’ve done your research in to some of the specific medical conditions that may impact your pet, you’ll not only be able to listen for the answers that you’re looking for but will develop an overall sense of his or his character. Are they curt, dismissive and don’t seem to want to take the time with you or are they open, warm and patient in answering your questions? Remember, a good veterinarian will appreciate speaking to a pet owner who shows a real concern and interest in their pet’s well-being.
- Be a Good Team Member: Once you’ve decided on a doctor you’ve added a key member to your team. And how you work together can greatly benefit your pet. It’s important to remember that while your veterinarian has may have access to the latest medical technology it is your ability to convey anything that may be out of the ordinary or the overall wellness of your pet. Just saying, “There’s something not right” doesn’t give a doctor much to go on. At home, pay attention to the following and let your veterinarian know when the symptoms first began.
- Change in physical activity
- Change in appetite or weight
- Change in attitude or responsiveness
- Change in sleep patterns
- Change in frequency of urination
- Change in water consumption
- Heavy or rapid breathing
- Lethargy or depression
- Lumps and bumps on or under the skin
- Noticeable decrease in vision (i.e. bumping into furniture)
- Shaking head
- Bad breath
5. Catching Flies With Honey: Everyone appreciates being acknowledged. Whether it’s a pat on the back for a job well done or taking the time to ask how someone’s day is going, the result is typically positive. And as much as we would like to think our pet is the most important in the world, a good veterinarian is dealing with a lot of “most important pets in the world.” Being cognizant of your doctor’s hectic day, asking the right questions and imparting a level of trust in their expertise will go a long way in establishing the kind of rapport that will benefit both you and your pet. Remember, people who enter the veterinary industry do so because they love animals and want to do everything they can to insure our pets health. But they’re human beings and not robots. Treating our doctor and their staff with the kind of professional respect they deserve, and trusting that they are on your side, will result in a stronger relationship.
Check back on Friday, October 26 for tPart 2: Don'ts of Choosing Your Veterinarian
About Steven May, CVJ: Steven has provided his expert pet advice to both the veterinary industry and the general public for more than 35 years. The former editor of VETZ Magazine and co-author of the popular “What About Wally: Co-Parenting A Pet With Your Ex,” the first book on the subject of pet custody, May also heads The Daily Growl, which provides fun and educational pet information to more than 150,000 followers. http://www.facebook.com/ePetExpert