There are very few relationships a pet parent ever has with another human being when it comes to their dog’s well being outside of a veterinarian. It is therefore, incredibly difficult when one must make the concerted decision to divorce themselves from the vet. When a dog’s overall care and/or dedication and attention to that dog comes into question, it might be time to find a new veterinarian.
I know because I recently made the decision to find a new veterinarian for my dog. Despite being with the same veterinarian for a very long time, things changed at the practice, and I no longer felt like my dog’s best interests were being served. My inner “dog mom monitor” also went off, and experience has taught me never to ignore my gut. When I ignore the gut, it bites me in the butt. I am sure most folks reading this can relate to that.
Here’s how to know when it’s time to go [elsewhere] and what to do in order to make the switch, step by step.
When To Find a New Veterinarian
Lack of Compassion: Red flag alert. If the veterinarian considers being “rough” with the dog, treating him or her like an inanimate object, and/or believes that animals must be dominated: Run, don’t walk. I am not talking about unruly dogs here or dogs who need to be gently muzzled for the sake of the vet’s safety and their own. Unsavory, rude, heartless people, no matter their profession, do not deserve my business…nor should they be working with animals.
He (or She) Is Just Not That Into You: Not listening, not wanting to hear your take on things, being oblivious to your questions and/or concerns about your dog: Run, do not walk, far, far, away. Any relationship must be a two-way street in order for it to work. Even more so, your dog is a member of the family, and if you are like me, you love them dearly like a child. Your input and questions are not only needed, but essential for a dog’s good health. After all, who knows your dog better than you?
Not Keeping Up: Technology, medical advances, and better practices are all strongholds in veterinary medicine. I love it when a professional keeps current on advances in their respective field, especially when my dog’s life is quite literally in their hands. If your pet’s vet could care less about attending a seminar, taking a continuing ed credit, or simply keeping abreast of the changes taking place in their scope of practice, this could cost your dog dearly.
Personality Changes: We all have bad days and off moments: Veterinarians are human, too. However, any sort of lack of empathy for pets, any sort of personality sudden alterations, or anything that is upsetting to you or your pet on a consistent basis are justifiable reasons to bolt.
Sad Staff: Are the folks who work at the practice personable? Do they engage well with you, your pet, and the veterinarian? This is important for me: If the staff is unhappy, unpleasant, and/or rude, despite how fab the veterinarian is, I won’t stay. Neither should you. These people will care for your pet if there is a stay over. Again, we all have bad days: Crappy personalities have no place in veterinary medicine. Period.
Outdated Office: If the practice itself is unkempt, the premises or dirty, or you are not welcomed to see the facility, these are red flags. Granted, if surgeries or sensitive procedures are taking place, you may be restricted from these areas.
Smack Talk: If the vet is talking smack about clients to me, you can bet you’ll be part of that nonsense when he or she talks to other clients. I appreciate hearing stories about clients, how something helped a dog, didn’t help, etc., but gossip has no place in a professional environment where animals’ lives are at stake. Run far away.
Refusal for Referrals: Not giving a referral or otherwise being offended at the notion…or that of a second opinion…is a no no. I put myself in my dog’s pawprints: I would want a second opinion if something didn’t feel right as a human. And since my dog cannot talk to tell me these things, I need to be his advocate. I would most certainly want a referral since any general practitioner is not an expert at every specialty. If your vet is against either second opinion or referrals, say bye bye.
Harm, Neglect, or Gone Wrong: In no way, shape, or form should a vet harm an animal. If a surgical procedure has gone wrong and the way things are handled are upsetting to you, the communication is poor, and the reason for the botching is unclear, get gone fast.
Planning an Exit Strategy
At the last visit from my dog’s previous veterinarian, I was reassured with my own internal gut, that this was, indeed, the right decision.
1. Find a new veterinarian. In most cases, it is best to have a vet in place before leaving your dog’s current vet. Sounds like common sense, but if your dog has an emergency and you must see someone urgently, be sure to have a plan in place. Worst case scenario, know where an emergency facility is located until you get a new vet.
2. Get copies of your dog’s medical records. I have no problem asking for this, and as a paying client, it is your right to have access to them. You are legally entitled to these records, and your dog’s new veterinarian will need them. This is not a time to be shy or afraid to ask. Your dog’s health is more important than the ego of a veterinarian or what his or her staff may think. If you are asked why you are leaving or why you need the results, simply explain you are moving on. You need not give a long, detailed explanation unless you want to voice the reason.
Fidose Helpful Hint: Request copies of all your dog’s records after every vet visit. I keep a written journal of my dog’s health, even outside of vet visits. Dogs age faster than people, and as such, little changes may otherwise go unnoticed. Having a journal solves that issue. I had all of my dog’s records already intact, but I did request a formal copy of everything from day one, just in case. I’ve been doing this for 20+ years and it has served me well.
3. Medication Refills: Have your dog’s prescriptions filled or any heartworm or flea preventatives taken care of prior to departing. If you have a few weeks in between finding vets and need the meds, you won’t have to worry.
4. Don’t Be Hateful Online: Remember, that what you say online is part of your electronic thumbprint. If you review the practice on the vet’s Facebook page, be aware that the everyone can see that. Leave behind old baggage. If a veterinarian is breaching their oath of medicine or in any way endangering animals, let the proper authorities know.
How to Find a New Veterinarian
In a previous post on Fidose of Reality, we outlined the steps necessary to help find a new veterinarian for your dog.
In a continuing effort to bring our readers the full spectrum of information on health and wellness for dogs, Medicine Vs Mom is back! This is an ongoing series with our buddy, Rachel Sheppard, at My Kid Has Paws. Rachel is a former veterinary technician who is a pet parent and has a lot of experience working with animals. She has a post on the topic of divorcing yourself from the vet from a vet tech standpoint here.
Did you ever have the need to find a new vet? How did it go? Did we miss any tips?