Choosing a vet

Boy in Veterinarian's Office
Boy in Veterinarian's Office, Norman Rockwell.

Next on my list of things to do before bringing a dog home: Finding a local veterinarian. This one is also somewhat intimidating to me. I’m planning on asking friends with dogs who they’d recommend in the area, but beyond that, I’m curious what you think about how to go about this process.

What kinds of questions should I ask a prospective vet? What are some things to watch out for? How will I know to evaluate them if I don’t have a dog yet? Does anyone go to a vet who practices holistic or homeopathic medicine?

Still so many questions! And I’m, as always, grateful for your advice!

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5 thoughts on “Choosing a vet

  1. 1. Figure out what’s required for vaccine protocol in your state. It’s recommended that dogs only be vaccinated once every 5-7 years. My state requires a 3-year rabies vaccine. Look into titer testing. Ask vets how often they recommend vaccination. If they say yearly, walk away!

    2. If you’re considering a raw diet, be sure to ask your veterinarian if s/he is supportive of this. Be wary of any who suggest you need tons of supplements to make it work — lies. Supplements are extremely expensive and almost always entirely unnecessary. Holistic or half-n-half vets are often more supportive, though they are more expensive.

    3. Consider the distance you’d need to travel. Also consider walk-in fees and new-member fees.
    4. Figure out the hours and if they are open for emergencies.
    5. Visit the office with one of your friend’s dogs and train there — you’ll get a chance to socialize a dog to a vet’s office (so important!) and you’ll get to see the lobby and watch the interactions people have with the vet/secretary. Look around at the products they sell, you can gauge what they recommend by what is on their shelves. Prescription dog/cat foods, antibiotic sprays, etc, are all signs of a vet who may not know much about nutrition or alternative treatments and/or are quick to treat but not to find out underlying causes to problems.
    6. Most vet offices have an affliative area where other businesses post flyers and leave cards, etc. These are the ones that the vets know of and may recommend. If you see a majority of compulsion-based trainers who’ve left their business info, walk away. It’s more likely that the vet there believes in such methods and uses them, however watered down when your dog is being treated in front of you.

    Evaluate via friends and neighbors and Yelp.com will be your best friend! Hope this helps!

  2. I’d call a vet’s office and ask one question: “Can I just bring my dog in to meet everyone in the office to make sure she associates going to the vet with happy times and not just treatment and shots?”

    If the vet or staff say they don’t think that’s necessary, I’d say thank you and goodbye. Anyone who thinks it’s a great idea is worth a second look.

    I have used conventional and homeopathic vets. My current vet is conventional but she’s very supportive of my interest in looking at natural methods of wellness. I think openness to other ideas is also a very good sign.

    I hope you have lots of great vets to choose from in your area.

  3. Abby, I hope you find the right one! I walked out on two vets who would not honor the shot protocol I wanted for my Aussie baby. Most vets, like pediatricians, are in the business of selling shots, and if you want to purchase anything other than the maximum shot package, you have to be informed (which won’t be a problem for you) and stand firm. I searched high and low for a vet with specific knowledge about Aussies and the genetic mutations that make certain shots deadly for them, but no luck there. So I settled on one who would at least do what I, the paying client, asked!

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