Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tips for Choosing a Vet

(MS) - When it comes to choosing a physician, it's often hit or miss. For some people, a doctor's bedside manner is extremely important, while others care more about a doctor's credentials than his compassion.

The same is often true for pet owners when it comes time to choose a veterinarian, though in many cases pet owners prefer a vet who has a gentle approach to their pet. Since a pet cannot speak for himself, it is important to find a vet who will be gentle with the animal, but several other factors should go into a pet owner's decision as well.

· Reputation: A vet's reputation is often his best reference. When looking for a vet, seek advice from family, friends or coworkers. When doing so, be sure to get a grasp of that person's approach to pet care. Just like there are different breeds of dogs, there are different types of dog owners. Some take a more lax approach to pet care, only taking their dog to the vet when something's noticeably wrong. Such people might not be the best judge, since they likely have little experience with the vet. Find someone who has a conscientious approach to pet care and seek their advice on a vet. If no one in your circle of family and friends can offer advice, visit a nearby dog park and ask for advice. Even if you don't own a dog, you're liable to get valuable insight.

· Facilities: A veterinarian's facilities should also be considered. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers a voluntary membership that offers guidelines with respect to facilities, equipment and the quality of care. Those who volunteer for this membership must meet those guidelines, so pet owners who see that an animal hospital is a member of AAHA can be certain that the hospital is up to snuff.

· Specialty: Much like physicians, veterinarians can specialize in certain areas, and some even specialize in certain breeds. This could be something pet owners, particularly those who might own a purebred dog, would want. For some, however, this might not be of the utmost importance. If possible, choose and animal hospital that has a specialist on staff, even if your individual vet is another doctor. This can make any unforeseen circumstance, such as emergency surgery, less difficult to deal with.

· Fees: While it is available, most pet owners don't have pet insurance. Therefore, fees should be considered before choosing a vet. Still, simply because a vet charges more for standard visits or consultations doesn't necessarily mean he's the best vet in town. It could simply mean that the town he practices in is more affluent, and his business costs (i.e., rent, utilities, etc.) are higher and force him to charge higher standard fees. Because pet ownership is such a big commitment, it's important to get a grasp of these fees before choosing a vet.

· Emergency service: This can be very important when choosing a vet. Know what type of emergency service the hospital your vet is associated with provides. No pet owner wants to find themselves in an emergency and not know what to do. If a certain hospital does not meet your emergency requirements, look elsewhere. If that's not an option, always be sure to keep a history of vet visits, so in the case of an emergency, you're immediately and fully prepared to show your animal's history if you need to see a vet whom you have not seen before.

· Proximity: Proximity can be especially important for pet owners. It's just more convenient to be nearby to a veterinarian. If the vet's office is far away, that could be costly in case of an emergency. In addition, routine appointments have a tendency to get put off if the vet is too far away. In general, try and use a vet located close enough to your home to make both of these things a non-issue. If need be, you can always consult a vet who specializes in your breed while allowing a nearby vet handle the more routine consultations.

CAPTION: Choosing the right veterinarian for your pet involves more than simply choosing the nearest animal hospital.


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