Being comfortable with your vet is important. You can find the smartest vet on the planet, but if you don’t leave the office feeling empowered, you may want to continue your search for a long term vet.
People usually go to vets for four reasons: well-pet checks, accidents, illness or the ever popular ‘wobbler’ (i.e., something just isn’t right and you can’t put your finger on it). Secondary to the way your dog and vet get interact, I think the “wobbler” is the most telling when it comes to assessing your relationship with your vet (not to be confused with your vet’s capabilities). In these cases you can leave the appointment feeling dumb, feeling validated, feeling reassured, or feeling reassured AND educated (the last one is my favorite)!
How on earth are we supposed to know what is normal when our rescue dog has only been with us for a few days and is adjusting to new food, a new environment, new rules, new…new…new? I don’t think there is any such thing as “normal” behavior when you first bring your dog home. This is why it is ideal to find a vet who is patient, willing to answer your questions, and help you understand when you should make a return appointment and when you should just sit back and keep an eye on things.
Here is a little real life example. I have owned a turtle for several years and trying to assess reptile health issues is extremely challenging. There have been a few false alarms over the years, along with a few life-threatening issues. Regardless of the reason for the visit, I have never left my vet’s office feeling anything but good or hopeful (depending on the circumstances). My vet handles false alarms by acknowledging the reasons for my concern, and then educates me on how to decipher odd behavior from potential illness. She also gives me a list of things to look for that would necessitate a visit if I run across similar behavior in the future. When it came to the life threatening illnesses, she explained the most likely causes without pointing a finger. Reading between the lines, I was the cause, but she was just so darn diplomatic! Not for one second did I feel she was being accusatory.
When it came to choosing a vet for Phoebe it was a no brainer.
Just like doctors, veterinarians have their own style. This applies to the way they treat patients and the way they treat issues. Some prefer to take a conservative treatment approach, while others come in with a big bang. If you are satisfied with their approach, and your dog comes out happy and healthy at the end that is great! On the other hand, if the approach goes against your grain, then you are probably better off looking for another vet.
Once you find a vet you are comfortable with, it is time to do a quick sanity check on your new-found vet’s capability (generally speaking). We aren’t the experts (if we were we would not need a vet), but when our dog is diagnosed with an illness, we can do a quick search on the Web to see if the vet’s assessment and recommended treatment are in line with the “norm.” Don’t get me wrong, I doubt you will ever find 100% consensus on anything related to dog care. The Web search is really no more than a litmus test to help build trust.
Even when you trust your vet, there will be times when you do not agree. As long as you respect each others opinion you should be good to go. The relationship is no different than us going to a physician. The veterinarian’s role is to diagnose and recommended a course of treatment. It is up to you, as the dog’s owner, to accept or reject the recommendation.
I do not want to spend all my time second guessing what my vet says, which is why I put so much effort into choosing her and learning to trust her. Now that all the hard work is done, all have to worry about is how on earth I can thank her and let her know how much I appreciate her. It is safe to say:
I LOVE MY VET!!!!!!