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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choosing A Vet

Are you happy with your vet? Does he listen to you? Does he answer your questions? Does he explain things in understandable terms? Does he demonstrate how to give treatments? Will he make referrals? Will he do research and make phone calls for additional information? How does he handle your pet? What about the staff? Are they friendly and helpful? Are they interested in your pet?

One additional question that Samba insists I post, does he have a supply of good treats within easy access?

If you are looking for a new vet, there are some things you might want to consider. Is the facility clean and well organized? Request a tour of the facility at a time when they are least busy.

How many veterinarians are in the practice? Who covers if your vet is unavailable? Check their licenses.

Does the vet have special interests such as dentistry, geriatrics, etc?

Is the staff caring, calm, competent and courteous and do they communicate effectively?
When we lived in Maryland we had a vet we liked a lot and he was good with our dogs, but the staff was so unfriendly and difficult to deal with that we changed vets.

Are x-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, EKG and other diagnostics done in house or referred to a specialist? If not done in-house, where is it done?

What emergency services are available. If an emergency vet is recommended, which one do they use and how well do they communicate?

Discuss fees. Is there a multi-pet discount. Will they price match on medications or will they write prescriptions so you can shop around for the best price?
With ten dogs, it's necessary for me to shop for the best price. For awhile we did price matching, but now my vet writes prescriptions for maintenance drugs such as heartworm preventative.

Does the vet speak to your pet and act as if he really likes the animal?
At one time we had a vet who acted as if he was afraid of dogs. Obviously we went elsewhere.

You want to build a good relationship with your vet. There are some responsibilities the owner must accept in order to keep that relationship running smoothly.

See your vet regularly for preventive visits, not just when your animal is sick.

Learn what is normal for your pet so you can recognize the early signs of illness. Remember you know your pet best. If you think something is wrong, seek medical help and insist on the proper tests being done. Trust your instincts.

Schedule appointments and be on time. When you enter the office be sure your animal is confined with a leash or a carrier.

Don't expect your vet to make a diagnosis over the phone.

Discuss the treatment with your vet and follow the agreed upon treatment. If you don't follow thru with medication or other treatment, you can't expect the vet to make your pet well.

Write down your questions ahead of time and if necessary write down the answers as you talk with the vet.

Take a friend along. Two sets of ears are better than one. They might catch something you missed.

Ask lots of questions. If you don't understand the directions or the reason for something, ask about it. Ask to be shown how to administer meds, such as eye drops. A good vet will be happy to teach you how.

Remember, you are the advocate for your pet. His life is in your hands. Choose a vet you are comfortable with and who shows real concern for your pet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pets and Allergies

Hello out there! I am still alive and well...

We've spent the last few weeks on another adventure with Sissy. We now have a new to us vet with a special interest in nutrition and digestive issues, a new diet (for the dogs, thanks much) and we might finally be making progress on Sissy's life-long problem with her anal glands. Along the way, our friend AllyB and her dog Sam introduced us to allergy testing for pets. Her vet used The Spectrum Group, but I'd love to hear any experiences you've had with similar services and/or other types of allergy testing for pets.

(See that super-pink belly?! That's not ideal... no wonder the girl always wants someone to rub her belly.)

I'll be asking New Vet about the blood testing on Monday when the girls go in for follow-up on Sissy and a "meet and greet" plus annual exam for Gretchen. I've had a dog with seasonal allergies and he spent his last years on assorted allergy pills, but this is a whole new adventure for me. How many of you have had pets with allergies, and what sorts? How did you manage them?
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