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Your vet, how to find a good one, part 2

Three Corgis Cupcake at the vet

Ready for the next step?  Your second veterinarian visit is a great opportunity to create a great relationship!

Disclaimer:  This is an opinion based on our family’s experience.  Always take the time to form your own actions.

Hello!  I introduce the second post in this short series.  If you are here, I assume that you have welcomed a furry family member and life is good!  This post is about the next visit, one that may be unplanned, maybe routine, but is your chance to re-meet your selected veterinarian.

That Next Visit

We were lucky with Hambone.  He rarely needed a veterinarian visit, maybe one critical visit in 14 years until his back injury.  I remember taking him for puppy diarrhea to a local vet, pretty simple routine visit. I walked away from those visits a bit puzzled, most likely just relieved that Hambone wasn’t dying from a crazy virus or worse.  We made a lot of mistakes with our first Corgi.  When I look back on it, it’s a miracle that he lived for 17 years!

With Cupcake, there was much improvement, as we became savvier and shrewder, discriminating between good experiences and poor ones.  This list gets to the meat of the visit and continued relationship.  Your observation must be on point, as you need to pay close attention to nuances, answers and explanations.

Here are questions upon your next vet visit:

  1. Did they ask questions, and more questions based upon your answers?  Did he/she encourage you to keep talking about the experience that lead up to the sickness?
  2. Did they ask you gross specific questions, like color of poop, consistency, how often, etc.
  3. Did they ask you about your pet’s demeanor and unusual habits?
  4. Did they answer all your questions in detail, treating you like a student that needs to understand and retain this information?
  5. Did they explain the treatment in detail?  Home care, such as diet, or what the medication will do?
  6. Did they tell you their thoughts on why this condition happened?  Things that are common? Things that should be watched over time?
  7. Did they explain to you the difference between an acute issue vs a chronic issue?
  8. Lastly, did they explain options, such as tests for pathology?

Now remember, all of these are not automatically going to happen.  It is also your responsibility to put forth these questions. Vets have met with many patients, and most people don’t ask a thing.  They expect this.  In all honesty, if you ask and the vet is offended, this vet may not be open to discussion and education.  

Ongoing Relationships

Hambone of Three Corgis

History is important, moving onward to chronic issues.  By chronic, I mean repeated issues over time. Maybe they occur once a year, twice a year, maybe you don’t recall.  And before you know it, it’s a pattern of symptom and treatment.

Hambone had repeated urinary tract infections (UTI) over the course of a year.  It turned out, he became resistant to the typically prescribed antibiotics. Although he was treated, the symptoms would return a few months later, just to be treated again and again.  I truly believe that his demise was partially due to a weakened immune system and over medication.

Once you build up history with your vet, communication becomes the key to a healthy relationship.  Not only will you be able see medical history and treatment trends while at your visit, you will also observe your vet’s bedside manner and vice versa.  Our vet knows that I am super paranoid about all kinds of things, so he will take the time to over-explain the medical jargon and go the extra mile for additional tests.  Yes, these extra test costs more; however, if you pay attention, you may save a lot in subsequent treatments.

Have you read, How to find a good vet, part 1?

Cupcake at El Segundo Animal Hospital

The examination must be thorough and consistent.  The vet should give you the facts, what looks good, what looks bad, checking eyes, ears, toes, inside the mouth, etc.  They must smell the pet, separate hair, etc. Lastly, they must look through the records to see if there have been previous issues.  All the while, talking to you, asking and answering questions.

As far as your veterinarian’s demeanor, take the time to get to know this person.  The best way is to ask questions, just like you would for yourself. You are the voice of your pet.  I look at it as a conduit-like interaction, and disclose every little detail. Eating, drinking, resting, poop color, new lumps, anything that is normal and abnormal.  Believe me, any vet will pick up on something that may have more meaning to them than to yourself.

The best way to assess your veterinarian is their sincere reaction to your prodding.  I am not encouraging anyone to be annoying for annoying sake. You should also be courteous and polite.  However, if they become short, visibly uncomfortable or even condescending, it’s a red flag. If they cut you off, not look you in the eye, criticize things that have nothing to do with the actual symptom, you pretty much know that this person lacks bedside manner.

Veterinarian visit examples

Now, as far as criticism goes, there is a way to do it that is constructive.  When Hambone was very ill, lethargic, farting, not eating or drinking, vomiting, spewing diarrhea, we went to pet emergency.  He had never been this level of sickness. The vet, was very sympathetic. She questioned our choice of raw food in a sensitive yet authoritative way.  She was not judgmental, but basically changed our minds on this food.

On the other hand, I took Cupcake in for an eye issue.  The vet walked in, stated that she was fat. That’s all.  It was awkward. Unfortunately, the veterinarian did not recover from that appointment.  She told me to wear gloves when applying the eye ointment. I asked why, and she simply looked at me, “I don’t know.  You don’t want to absorb the medication.” More…awkward!

To Wrap This Up

acupuncture at El Segundo Animal Hospital

Whether you have a chosen veterinarian or are in the process of seeking one, the goal is to have the best possible vet that suits your needs.  Not only do you want a thorough doctor, you also want to feel comfortable to be open, confident and secure with their guidance and care.  Trusting this professional with your beloved furry family member makes all the difference in the world!

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