If you are an animal lover, chances are, you own a few pets and have spent some time at the veterinarian’s office. However, if you are new to pet ownership, you will want to take some time to locate a vet. Other reasons for finding a new vet may be a recent move to a new area, your pet has developed problems and you want the best possible care or you are dissatisfied with your current vet and need a new one.
In preparation for finding a new vet, get referrals from others then make some phone calls to schedule an interview with the vets. Many practices allow you to bring your pet along to the interviews, but don’t be surprised if you are asked to pay for this option. Also, it is okay to let the vet(s) know that you are interviewing others. As part of the interviews, be sure to ask the following questions:
1. How are patients monitored for overnight hospital? This typically depends on how large the facility is as well as how many workers there are. In cases where they don’t offer overnight stays, ask where they recommend.
2. Does the practice use updated/modern equipment? Like in human medicine there have been many advances made in veterinary care. Be sure to ask if the vet has the updated equipment for:
· Taking blood pressure
· A Packed Cell Volume, which measures red blood cell count without needing to send a blood sample to a lab.
· A Pulse Oximeter to monitor the animal’s oxygen (old equipment requires human read x-rays; new equipment uses automatic processors and are more efficient.)
3. Does the practice refer patients to specialist? Be concerned if the practice says,” We don’t do everything here.” Be sure to get answers you are comfortable with to these inquiries.
· If you refer critical patients to another facility, which one is it?
· What type of situations will be referred to a specialist?
· Do you refer patients to a specialist for major surgery or advanced procedures?
· Do you refer patients who have conditions that are hard to treat or diagnosed to others for a second opinion?
4. What modern anesthetic techniques/practices do you use? Today, vets typically use Isoflurane and Sevoflurance; do not go to a vet that uses Halothane as this is no longer deemed safe. In addition, any patient under anesthesia should have an IV catheter and be intubated (placement of a trachea ensuring oxygen levels are adequate) when under anesthesia. As you talk about the veterinary clinic’s anesthesia practice be sure you discuss:
· How they monitor patients when they are under anesthesia? Ideally, it is better if there is someone whose sole responsibility is to monitor the equipment.
· What type of monitoring equipment is used?
· Who does the monitoring?
· Is there a vet tech to help or does the vet do everything?
5. Are employees experienced vet techs and do they have a license to protect? The state requirements vary, but the more people at the clinic are licensed the better. Check out the aavsb.org to learn the requirements for each state. You should also ask:
· If licensing is required, are all of your techs licensed?
· If licensing in not required, do you have licensed techs on staff?
· What is the level of training and experience of any unlicensed technicians?
6. Is the practice AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited? These hospitals/veterinary practices must meet specific standards and guidelines regarding facilities, equipment, patient care and staffing.
7. How many vets practice at the facility? Find out if some have specific areas of expertise or if others have more current training. Also, while it is not a requirement that a clinic have a board certified specialist, it is certainly a positive feature. If there are certified specialist, ask what their focus field is. Remember, vets are not required to have an internship, but those who do have an advantage.
Not every veterinary practice will meet all of these criteria, so you will want to select the vet that meets the highest number. However, more important than whether or not the veterinary clinic has all the latest equipment, is how you feel about the vet. You want a vet that you feel at ease with. Just as you would not want a personal physician who makes you uncomfortable or feel inadequate, you don’t want to bring your pet to a vet where you (or perhaps your pet) are uneasy.
Your pet is a part of your family, so you want to be sure to find one that is everything you need it to be. Asking these questions, as well as trusting your feelings, as part of your search for a vet will make this process much easier.