“My dog’s eye is bleeding, how could this have happened?”
It was the mid 90’s and those are words I said aloud in a busy waiting room.
“Look, no one can stay here to watch these dogs all night,” the voice of authority commanded. “You want to just leave her and pick her up tomorrow if you can’t handle it, then?”
I took my dog away from that busy waiting room, promising both the dog and myself that no one would ever again:
- Make me feel so helpless;
- Put my dog in a similar situation;
The above happened to me while picking my dog up at the veterinary clinic they day after eye surgery. You can imagine the horror I felt expecting to pick my dog up, talk to the vet, get discharge instructions, and be on our merry way to recovery.
A mass appeared to protrude from my Cocker Spaniel’s eyelid days earlier, which I later learned was “cherry eye,” a common occurrence in the breed. I was a fairly new pet parent at the time and cherry eye surgery to remove the gland was the norm in a lot of veterinary practices. I was reassured that someone would monitor the dog after surgery. This was not the case.
Picking my dog up from surgery the next day, she was brought out to me a “bloody mess,” to be blunt. Blood oozed from her eye, caked into the corners and she was blinking from the trauma. The veterinarian’s words cut into me. The 2015 version of me would have handled this much differently, but the mid 90’s dog mom told the vet we’d never be back, paid the bill, meds in tow, and found a new doc.
There are bad apples and rude people who are insensitive in every profession. Veterinary medicine is no different. I have a huge amount of respect for caring veterinarians and specialists, vet techs and all those who assist animals day in and day out: And I know we all have bad days.
You don’t talk down to a client.
You don’t use authority and sarcasm in an attempt to toss your “I know more than you do” weight around.
Finding a good veterinarian with whom you can foster a relationship for you and your dog is worth its weight in golden dog biscuits.
When to Run Away from the Vet’s Office (i.e., find a new vet)
- You feel rushed during appointments;
- He or she isn’t open to discussing your concerns or dismisses your wanting to ask about titers, why your pet needs certain meds, or referring you to a specialist.;
- The vet gets annoyed if you ask questions;
- Isn’t giving your pet a thorough exam;
- Insists you absolutely have to buy the food at the vet’s office and you cannot get it elsewhere;
Obviously, there are more reasons than this, but if you feel dismissed and like your dog isn’t the getting care he or she deserves, and more importantly, needs, run like hell to find a new veterinarian.
How to Find a Good Veterinarian
I adore my dog’s veterinarian so much that we travel over 90 minutes each way to his office for visits. I like to joke that we’ve been with this veterinarian since he was a puppy (not long after he graduated vet school), but it’s true. I put a lot of idol worship on him, but with age comes wisdom. I realize not all super heroes don a cape and fly from building to building.
Caring veterinarians and caring veterinary technicians who dedicate themselves to the health of pets while developing an ongoing relationship with the pet parent among the true super heroes of the world.
To find a good veterinarian:
Ask friends and family members who they take their dog to see for veterinary visits. More importantly, ask them how satisfied they are with the services. Do you frequent the dog park? Ask folks there. Are you a member of a local agility club? See where folks take their dogs.
When asking, cover the five W’s:
Who do you take your dog to see for veterinary care?
What do you like about this veterinary practice?
When you take the dog in for a visit, does the take his or her time answering questions?
Where is he or she located?
Why do you like going to this particular vet?
If you are going to consider a veterinary practice, find out if your dog can see the same veterinarian each time, barring any days off or emergencies.
Call the veterinary office ahead of time and ask questions on the phone. Consider making a visit to the vet’s office for a general visit and before any problems arise. Though a dog has to get accustomed to a new vet and vice versa, this is a good place to start.
Is the person answering the phone helpful? Do not be offended if you are put on hold or asked to hold for an emergency. Smaller practices may do this, and it is normal to hear, “Can you hold or is this an emergency?”
Any relationship takes time to develop. We put the same level of care into choosing a vet that we do in selecting a human physician for ourselves.
On the first visit, take notice of:
- The condition and cleanliness of the clinic:
- The vet’s introduction to you and how he or she handles your pet
- Explain why you are there and be honest: You are looking for a new veterinarian and considering this practice
- Find out office hours, how long the vet has been practicing, if you will be able to see the veterinarian consistently, and if there are after-hours, weekend, and/or emergency hours.
- How long the veterinarian has been practicing and if he or she has any specialties.
- If holistic medicine is important to you, now is the time to address the topic. (i.e., alternative treatment, etc)
- Ask for a tour of the practice if possible. Note that if surgeries are taking place or an emergency is in house, a tour may not always be possible. When booking the first appointment, you can always ask the receptionist to ask the veterinarian ahead of time.
One of the questions we recommend asking is, “Why should I bring my pet to your practice?” A caring veterinarian will not be offended and will offer the answer.
For me, personally, there has to be a level of “bedside manners” that put me at ease. I’ve seen my dog’s vet get down on all fours to be put my dog at ease. My dog’s vet has called me on weekends if I was in a state of panic when my last Cocker was nearing the end of her life. He is special and I know this.
The veterinarians of today are certainly not the veterinarians of my youth. In fact, the only time our family dog went to the vet throughout my childhood was for shots and emergencies. The times have definitely changed.
One of the main pieces of advice we have is to remember that veterinarians, just like you, put their pants on one leg at a time. Your dog’s well being is in your hands, and at some point you will need to turn your dog over to a trusted veterinarian.
In our continuing series of “Medicine Versus Mom,” pet blogger Rachel Sheppard of the My Kid Has Paws blog shares her vet tech side of things with 9 Ways to Find a Veterinarian here.
Did you ever have a negative experience with a veterinarian? Do you have a gem of a vet? Let us know by barking back in the comments below.
Want more articles like this? Check out other posts in the Medicine Vs Mom series here: