How To Tell A Good Vet From A Bad One, According To Experts
If you're taking your pet to get a checkup or be treated for a health issue, you want to be sure that the doctor they're seeing meets all of the signs of a good vet. After all, your precious fur baby is in their care.
When it comes down to it, though, some vets will be what you're looking for, and some won't. You probably have some preferences about how your doctor acts. Maybe you like someone who gets straight to the point, or maybe you'd rather have a doctor who's willing to talk through different ideas with you. This is similar for vets. "Some owners prefer vets that take control and tell them what to do for the best [care]," Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, a practicing veterinarian and veterinary writer, tells Bustle. "Others prefer every decision to be made together."
If you find yourself in need of a new vet, there's no harm in asking your friends and family members who they take their pets to. Just make sure that you ask them why they love these vets so that you can determine whether they'd work well for you and your pet. "If you find yourself in search of a new vet, I would advise that you first search online for the nearest four or five practices," Woodnutt says. "Then, you need to find out a bit about their facilities and how they operate."
If you aren't quite sure what makes a good vet, here's what to look for.
1. Good: They Care About Comfort
Pets who are scared of the vet are probably always going to be a little anxious, no matter how many times you console them. But from the moment you step in the door of the veterinary clinic, you should feel like they've put thought into making the space fear-free, Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, a certified professional dog trainer and founder of Fun Paw Care, tells Bustle. Indications of this might be all personnel who are working there have treat pouches and are equipped to calm down your cat or dog and reward them, he says.
2. Good: They're Willing To Explain
If you don't have veterinary expertise, it can be difficult to understand what's happening when your pet encounters a health issue. A vet who is willing to explain things in detail and give you all the time you need to understand this information is a good vet, Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a small animal and exotic veterinarian and consultant for DogLab, tells Bustle. "Some vets are better at explaining things and are better at time management," she says. "Some diseases are very complicated, and understanding what is going on with your pet and what treatment or surgery is need is best."
3. Good: They Run Thorough Tests
If something is wrong with your cute cat or perfect pup, you want to know that your pet is in the best possible hands. "Good vets are proactive, usually erring on the side of being overly cautious, or overly thorough," Kelly Meister-Yetter, an animal rescuer, animal rights advocate, and event coordinator for animal rehab and rescue organization The Healing Barn, tells Bustle. "They might suggest doing a test that another vet doesn't think is necessary." A good vet understands that a pet owner needs the peace of mind that test results can provide, instead of rushing to the next patient without doing a thorough examination.
4. Good: They Listen To You
While a vet is probably more trained and knowledgeable about pet health than you are, there's something to be said for the fact that this is your pet and you know what behaviors are normal for them and which ones aren't. "A good vet is one that listens to you," Ochoa says. "You know your pet better than any one. If you think that there is something off with your pet you would be the first to notice," she says. If they've stopped eating or have been acting more tired than usual, you'll be the first to catch on and remember their symptoms.
5. Bad: They Rush You
If there are lots of pups and kittens waiting to be seen in the lobby, a vet might try to wrap up each appointment quickly in order to fit everyone in. But if your vet rushes you and your pet through the visit, this is a sign of a not-so-great vet. "It's hard to remember everything you wanted to discuss, and it's hard to remember the answers to your questions when you feel rushed," Meister-Yetter says. A good vet, on the other hand, would take their time to discuss an issue with you, no matter how long you need to talk. "They don't check their watches, and they don't rush you through an exam or conversation," she says.
6. Bad: They Try To Sell You Unnecessary Things
If your pet has a health condition, your vet is the perfect person to prescribe medications or recommend different foods or accessories. Using these could improve your pet's illness or just make their life more comfortable. But if your pet doesn't need those things, they shouldn't be pushed on you, and you shouldn't be pressured into buying something. "Bad vets try to sell you things that you don't necessarily need, such as expensive specialty foods," Meister-Yetter says. "Sometimes a pricey food is needed, though, so it's best to do your homework on the subject."
7. Bad: You Feel Uncomfortable
"If at any point you feel uncomfortable about your vet, it’s a good idea to take a step back," Woodnutt says. You're the best judge of whether your pet's vet is a good match for you, because if you feel that your concerns aren't being heard or your pet isn't being given the attention they need, you owe it to your pet to stick up for them. "After all, you and your vet need to work as a team to look after your pet, and you can’t do this if you don’t trust them," she says.
If the issue is minor, you can work around it. But if you really think you need to find a new vet, it's worth looking around.