Vetting the Vet: How Well Do You Know Your Veterinarian?

What do you look for in a veterinarian and how do you find a good one?

How do you know who offers what you desire? Come to think of it, what do you desire and how does your pet feel about that?

Where to Turn

There are a bunch of veterinarian offices in my immediate area, so when I first moved here I had no idea where to turn. Sure, I could just pick the closest one but since I’d rather not pick my own doc that way—I’m thinking my cat, Yogi would prefer a little research done. I’ve found in the past that a bigger practice has more to offer such as on-site x-rays, more complex surgeries, and fancier diagnostic equipment, while a smaller practice may give you more personalized service. There are many ways to determine which vet is best for you and your pet but first, you both should agree on what you are looking for.

Did Someone say Treats?

If you leave it up to your dog, he will go with the one who gives out the best treats. Now, that’s not the best way to judge a vet, but who is to say what’s right when you’re a dog? I’m sure my cat would prefer one that has no dogs allowed, but since there are none like that in this neighborhood, she’s going to have to put up with those dogs in the waiting room.

The Little Things Matter

Everyone has a bad day or gets a little burned out. It seems though that out of all the vets I’ve used, I can tell who genuinely loves animals. I’m sure they all do to different degrees but some people just aren’t dog people (just ask Yogi), or cat people for that matter (just ask any dog). I’ve found, though, that compassion is an obvious trait and shows in how they handle your pet. Just like I prefer a dentist with a soft touch, I’m sure my pet does as well, especially since she’s the one getting probed and prodded, stitched up, and/or shot up.

vetting the vet

©istockphoto/FatCamera

You Never Know Until You Do

The first vet we used after moving here was recommended by a neighbor which is one of the best ways to determine who to see. It was a bigger practice and they saw a wide range of animals. I appreciated that the veterinarians seemed top-notch and the fact the practice was busy is an indication that they do good work. One problem I had was with their billing practices. They would charge for a full checkup every time we went in, even though I didn’t request it. I also never got the same doctor twice; something I would never put up with at my personal medical doctor’s office. My complaints were explained off and the extra charges removed, but the impersonal feel of the whole thing turned me off. Not only did we not really know our vet, but she didn’t know us at all.

This One’s Just Right

The next vet we used and still use is a smaller practice and we are much happier there. I in no way am inferring that a smaller practice is better, I just prefer them. I like that the front desk knows who I am when I walk in and who my pet is upon arrival. I like that I see the same guy every time—and most importantly, he seems to remember my pet. Yogi really doesn’t care for the guy, but let’s be honest, I’m certainly not hoping to see my proctologist anytime soon, either.

Gotta Love the Internet

Not only can you find what vets are nearby, but thanks to the internet we can vet them ourselves. Their websites have reviews; even >yelp.com probably has some reviews as well. There also is the site myneighborhood.com which is an excellent way to find out what your neighbors think. You do have to be careful though how you sign up for some of these like My Neighborhood or you’ll find out way more than you wanted. I really don’t care whose dog pooped in whose yard, I just wanted to vet the vet.

Meet the Author: Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan is a full-time musician along with a humor, travel and outdoor recreation columnist. He's also an avid skier and golfer and has traveled extensively around the U.S, the Caribbean and Europe. His musical career takes him all over the U.S. and his wife drags him everywhere else. His weekly columns “The Life of Ryan” ran in the Transcript and Sentinel newspaper chain for several years and have been featured in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Mile High Magazine. He is the co-founder, editor and humor columnist for ColoradoLocalLegends.com and currently resides in Morrison, Colorado.

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