Vetting the Doctor

Once you've compiled a list of potential veterinarians, your next step is to choose one whose opinion you respect and with whom you feel an emotional connection. To narrow your choices, schedule a consultation appointment with every veterinarian you're interested in. Leave your dog at home so you can focus on your discussion without having to worry about what your dog is doing.

Expect to pay a fee for the veterinarian's time, but this is a wise investment. Meeting the doctor and chatting in a relaxed atmosphere gives you a chance to get to know her and to ask questions about her background and treatment philosophy.

Questions to Ask

You may know you like a doctor from the moment you shake hands. If not, here are a few questions you can ask that will help you break the ice and narrow your choices.

  • Why did you want to become a veterinarian? The doctor's passion for animals should be readily apparent.

  • What are your veterinary credentials? This is a good way to find out if your veterinarian has a specialty.

  • How long have you practiced veterinary medicine? A doctor with a few years of experience is more likely to know the latest treatments and procedures. A doctor who's been in practice for a few decades may not be as familiar with the most recent developments but will have a firm background in veterinary medicine.

  • Do you attend veterinary conferences throughout the year? This lets you know that your veterinarian learns about the newest advances in veterinary medicine and networks with other veterinarians about unusual cases.

  • What diagnostic equipment do you use? The office should have an ultrasound and X-ray machine, and the veterinarian should use conventional methods, such as surgery, pharmaceutical drugs, and blood tests, to help diagnose and monitor your dog's condition.

  • What do you think about using pharmaceutical drugs when treating a problem? Medications should be limited to cases that are not helped by natural therapies or at least consistently monitored for possible side effects that may occur.

  • What modalities do you use to treat chronic diseases? The veterinarian should feel comfortable using conventional medications if they are necessary, as well as a range of natural treatments.

  • What kind of food do you recommend? The veterinarian should emphasize your dog's health requirements and a natural diet without animal and plant byproducts with as few chemicals and artificial ingredients as possible.

  • Who monitors the dogs after surgery, and who is in charge of the hospital facility? Your veterinarian's office should have qualified veterinary technicians and ideally one or more doctors who supervise this area.

  • Are you or another veterinarian in the office on call for emergencies? If your dog ever needs to be rushed to the veterinarian, you need to know who will take care of him.

  • Attributes to Consider

    Besides having all the right answers to your questions and keeping up with the latest developments in the veterinary field, you'll want to choose a veterinarian you like. This physician should be easy to talk to and doesn't rush through his explanations or use a lot of medical jargon you may not understand.

    He's kind, patient, and willing to listen to your concerns, and is responsive to all of your inquiries. You should feel comfortable asking him anything. Although most veterinarians are usually very busy, you should never feel rushed through your appointment time.

    Your veterinarian's office and personnel is important too. The staff should be friendly, helpful, and seem to genuinely like being around dogs. The facility should be clean.

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