How to Choose a Vet            


Our topic for today is selecting a veterinarian.


There are several factors to consider when choosing the right veterinarian for your family’s precious pets. First and foremost, a vet should demonstrate an exhaustive knowledge of veterinary medicine. He must also be compassionate and immediately put you and your pet at ease with his kennel-side manner. A vet who greets potential clients with a stun gun strapped to his belt or tells YOU to “sit and stay” will not build a bond of confidence with a pet owner.


When you first enter the clinic, casually scan the premises for modern diagnostic facilities. It should be equipped with an X-ray machine and ultrasound, and have the capability to perform EKGs, endoscopy, and other important procedures. It may be disconcerting if the shelves are stocked mostly with rolls of duct tape, bathroom plungers, or any equipment labeled “As Seen on TV.”


It is also essential for a vet to be familiar with all the new medications now available to treat common animal ailments.  However, if he recommends the latest de-worming tablet because it “worked on the neighbor’s kid,” you might tend to be suspicious of his ability to conduct valid clinical trials.


As the vet begins examining your pet, closely observe if he employs traditional veterinary procedures or if he appears influenced by so-called New Age methods. You may not feel comfortable with a vet who applies WD-40 to your aging collie with hip joint problems, or who uses a dowsing rod to locate your cat’s bladder.  Also, watch out for vets who attempt to dislodge your cat’s hair ball by using the Heimlich maneuver.


While older vets may boast many years of experience, remember that faculties such as eyesight and memory can diminish with age. For example, if the vet sits on your Chihuahua or misplaces the thermometer whilst taking its temperature, your confidence level might plummet. The same could be said for an overcautious vet. Avoid any animal practitioner who approaches your Siamese cat decked out in full hockey gear, including the mask and stick.


Nevertheless, a sense of humor can be reassuring to pet owners. Perhaps the restroom has a fire hydrant instead of a toilet, or the staff provides Animal Crackers for pet owners to nibble on in the waiting rooms. These suggest a veterinarian with a witty and fun personality. But if he giggles uncontrollably for ten minutes when he suggests performing “lab tests” on your Labrador, you may not feel comfortable with this individual.


Possibly the best way to judge a vet’s overall ability is to observe his reaction to a non-traditional pet. Suppose you present your veterinarian with a cage containing a cute bunny rabbit munching on a couple of carrots. It would certainly not be inappropriate for you and your pet to split, should he remark that it “looks like the ingredients for a hearty casserole.”


Armed with these guidelines, selecting a veterinarian should be a walk in the park.