How to choose a vet?

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How to choose a vet?

Postby mgrucker » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:44 pm

Now that I know we will be getting our first puppy in a couple of months I need to decide which vet to bring it to and I have a few questions since I've never done this before. I live in a new area and don't know anybody to make personal recommendations to me. Looking at the three nearest veterinarian's websites it looks like they all studied at the U of M and all claim to be AAHA certified. Beyond that I don't know what to look for and how to decide. Do people usually just start with whatever one is closest and switch if they run into issues or is there some additional research I should do to decide upfront? Are there any questions I should ask them now that would help? Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby orhunter » Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:18 pm

I don't have a clue if there's a good way other than an actual interview of the individual(s). A person can certainly find out over time if they made a good choice or should look elsewhere. I would contact some local NAVHDA members, or another hunting dog organization, and ask for recommendations. If you have to do it on your own, I would watch out for those who try to sell you goods and services that aren't needed or may actually be bad for your dog. Playing the guilt card, if you don't do this, you're a bad dog owner kind of thing. It is okay to say, no.

One of the first things you may encounter is when a vet tells you to consider getting your pup spayed/neutered. Grab your pup, pay whatever costs you've accumulated, and leave. Don't come back. This is an early clue the vet does not have your pups well being as a priority. Also learn what parasites, diseases, illnesses, etc. are in your area. You don't want to put chemicals/drugs into your dog as preventive medicine for something that does not exist in your area. More guilt card crap.
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby Tom in WI » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:27 pm

I too was new to an area and didn't know one vet from another. I asked around at work and one seemed to be mentioned above the others. He is a nice guy and I always felt confident in the treatment he provided. The rub was that I couldn't get the dog in when I needed to... Porcupine encounter, lymes, etc., he was just too booked. Since his competitor provided excellent care to my dog during these stressful times I decided that they should get all of my business. They are also hunters unlike the first clinic. While not a prerequisite I certainly saw this as a plus. Also, when I bring the dog in for routine vaccinations they are always administered by a vet who looks over the dog. This was not the case at the first clinic where techs administered the vaccines. (And no the new clinic doesn't charge more than the other for vaccinations.)

Not sure how one figures all this out in advance but this might give you some things to consider or questions to ask if you interview clinics. Good luck.
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby DrahtsundBraats » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:41 pm

I like the vets that don't consider you to be a dumb jerk with no idea how to take care of a dog. Sorry if our vets out there are insulted, but you have no idea how many vets look at owners like we are the scourge of the animal world, don't vaccinate out pets and have never heard of lyme disease or dental care. I have a great vet...who's not looking in my wallet every time I come in the door. He's practical. He is also a great surgeon...any vet can give the normal care....find one that is set up to handle the critical care and will be available instead of sending you to Animerge.
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby mgrucker » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:27 am

Thanks guys, that's all good advice!
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby huntnvet » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:18 pm

Vet clinics are like any other business, we do market research to understand how it is that people make choices, here are a few things to consider:

The decision is much more about you, than the vet's skills, and the choices are often unconscience ones.
answer these questions honestly,

Does it matter if male or female vet? Does it matter if vet is young or old? Does it matter if vet is younger than you? Does it matter if vet is a hunter or not?
Some interesting things to consider: most men prefer male vets, most men prefer vets older than them, a lot of hunters prefer vets that hunt

You can find clinics of all types: low cost/high volume, specialty, and everything in between.
Other thoughts: Do you want a clinic with 24/7 service? They are generally more expensive, but available. Do you view a trip to the vet as a "necessary evil", or a chance to engage and learn, or you are indifferent? If you view the visit as an necessary evil, then you will likely be ok with a low cost/high volume clinic, but if you want a relationship with the vet and you view them as a resource, then a higher end clinic will be more to your liking.

One thing to look at as a general guide, if you are interested in the skills of a vet, ask them, or look on the website, as to what diagnostics items they have. things like ultrasound, endoscope, tonopen, etc. If you find a clinic that has been around for many years, and they have few items, I would question that as they are not improving their skills. In general, quality medicine will always cost more.

Hope that helps.
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby Steven » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:58 pm

Ask them about their position on spaying/neutering. Most have strong opinions in favor of it, but the vet I want to go to is the one who will lay out the pros and cons and respect your decision. Play it as if you don't really want to do it. I find how this benign question is addressed reveals a lot about how they'll interact with you and approach treatment options/decisions in the future.

I use a non-hunting, middle-aged, female vet but she's very respectful of our choices from not neutering our males and choosing to not treat cancer in my old lab. We discuss the pros and cons with her and then make an informed decision. She's shown a great willingness to consult with specialists and get advice herself to share even more information to aid in our decision making. That's what you want.
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby spinster » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:30 am

My vets are up to date regarding diseases they are seeing/hearing about in our local area and this is important to know regarding vaccination. You don't want to over-vaccinate. I also like a vet that does chiro and is open to alternative medical treatments.
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby Misskiwi67 » Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:25 pm

Here are some things I recommend looking for:

-Owns an x-ray machine that works on large dogs.

-Vaccinates on a 3 year schedule. The only vaccines you should get annually are lyme and lepto, IF they are prevalent in your area. Bordetella is only necessary if you board or groom your dog.

-Owns and USES blood pressure monitoring during anesthesia and has a technician next to the pet at all times during anesthesia monitoring, not a tech you can yell for when you have a problem. This is a good way for a lay person to see if anesthesia standards are adequate.

-AAHA certification is a plus. This is a standard of care requirement that the veterinarian chooses to sign up for. But don't use this as your only standard, some practices do the bare minimum and only during inspection. The only standard in veterinary medicine is weather or not you've been sued and lost your license. There are plenty of smooth talkers out there that practice horrible medicine but none of their clients know it. Watch any episode of "Dr. Pol" on Animal Planet and see a great example - at least one case of malpractice in every episode.

-Convenient location and hours. Some clinics are open late or on Saturdays, others are open 24 hours. If you can't get in to see the vet, it doesn't do you much good.

-A vet who's willing to speak with you on your level. Some vets are direct, others are "hand holders" and different people do best with different types of communication. Find one that meshes well with you, communication is the key to quality care.
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Re: How to choose a vet?

Postby RyanGSP » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:34 am

My vet has been used by my family for decades so I kinda fell into it.

She is a little on the pricey side but anytime I need her night or day she meets me at the clinic and I never have to pay after hours charges.

She knows working dogs and has a GWP herself and does both small and large animals. Its also a smaller practice, 1 vet with 3 or 4 techs. It makes you feel at ease when the girls know your dogs by name when they walk in the door even after not being in there for a year.

I would observe the overall cleanliness of the clinic as well.
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