I just finished reading a book called Speaking for Spot by Dr Nancy Kay. Dr Kay is a veterinarian who writes this book for pet parents like you and me. In it she writes in her capacity as a pet parent as well as a vet, advising pet parents on several topics related to health, starting from basics such as the vet you should choose. It’s a valuable guide that I highly recommend to all.
In the talks I gave recently in the US, I spoke of the travails of my dog Nishi. Nishi was run over by a car a few years ago. In her journey since, her vets have played a critical role, not just in keeping her alive and thriving, but also in piecing our lives together. In fact, a mere two months after the accident, we were getting married. We had the courage to leave her behind and go get married only because she was under the able care of her loving vet, who boarded her and cared for her. We called him every day – several times on some days – and he reassured us that she was doing fine. That’s how our vet became part of our wedding planning.
A good vet is an asset. He/she understands your dog well – that means understanding the breed as well as your dog, the individual. A good vet is also one you get along well with. So, the vet’s job is no easy one. He/she has to be adept had building a good rapport with both you and your dog. But that is the nature of the job.
So, how do you go about finding a good vet? I like to pull out this nifty list from Dr Kay’s book, of important qualities. Make your own list, based on these criteria:
Do you want a young vet with enthusiasm who is well versed in cutting-edge technology? Or, a seasoned veteran who has amassed a great deal of experience and intuition?
- Does your pup prefer female vets to male vets?
- Are you a better fit with a doctor who offers every available option, or one who makes a strong recommendation?
- Do you prefer a more aggressive or more conservative diagnostic and treatment approach?
- Are you interested in holistic options rather than an exclusively Western or Eastern medical approach?
- Does your dog have special needs?
- Do you have multiple dogs and do they have different needs? Do you need to have different vets for each of your dogs?
Once you have your criteria listed, start asking around. Other pet parents and online forums can fill in the blanks. But stay away from people who push you hard in one direction.
You and your vet(s) are part of a team that is working towards the health care of your dog. But you and only you will be taking all the decisions for your dog. Some of them can get difficult. Your vet is your advisor in this process. So pick someone who can be a good teammate. Pick someone who understands your style of decision making for your dog and will aid you sufficiently in your decision making process.
Sometimes, the situation will demand that you have more than one vet as part of this team. Second opinions are not rare in human medicine either. Competent medical professionals do not take offense at it. In fact, they cooperate with each other for the health of their patient. So be bold. Put your dog’s health first.