You’re Allowed To Fire Your Vet

In most of America, veterinary practices have a lot of competition. They’re everywhere, and unless you’re dealing with exotics or living somewhere without roads, you have a lot of options. Yet when you ask most people why they go to their vet, it has more to do with convenience or habit than love for the outstanding care their pets receive.

This is silly. Even basic veterinary care is expensive, and when you really need them, you want your vet to be supportive, affordable, knowledgeable and all around awesome. You’re a valuable customer and you and your pets deserve excellent care. That is why it’s so important to find and establish a good relationship with the right veterinary practice before you need them.

High price does not guarantee superior knowledge or care, so shopping around for a practice in your budget is perfectly reasonable. If you’re too afraid of the vet bill to take your pet in, the expensive veterinary office isn’t doing you much good. All sorts of factors, such as location, the addition of boarding or grooming services, the number of vets sharing a practice, and the equipment used go into how a practice sets their prices. All of that stuff matters different amounts to different people.

Going to a practice with just a single vet can be nice because you’ll always see the doctor and staff you expected, but it’s limiting in emergencies or when they’re on vacation. Even your regular appointments may be harder to schedule around a single provider. Multiple vets at a practice tends to lower costs and increase the number of services they offer, as well as allowing them to handle emergency care without clearing the day’s schedule of routine appointments. Unfortunately, more staff means that even if you see the same doctor, you may be dealing with different support staff every time. If you end up with a different doctor, you can get a very different level of care than you expected. A bigger practice will also tend to make the waiting room more crowded, which can be a major concern for shy animals. Some vets rotate practices on different days, and it can make it a pain to get in with the doctor you like. Sometimes specialists rotate practices and that’s kinda awesome if you happen to need that specialty, because all your pet’s needs can be handled in one clinic.

All of the best vets I’ve dealt with were very willing to look things up and admitted freely when they didn’t know something. Even a vet who “only” sees dogs and cats has to understand the medical needs of two species, and deal with many of the issues a human GP would refer to a specialist. Add that they’re often hearing about symptoms secondhand from owners, and their patients don’t understand why it’s important to hold still for their exam. I’ve heard plenty of people complain when their vet doesn’t have a fa├žade of omniscience, or makes an incorrect first diagnosis, but those are perfectly fine with me.

In general, I’m looking for a vet who makes my pet’s comfort a priority, makes routine preventative care simple, and is still actively learning. Noting makes me happier than hearing that my vet is at a conference learning something new. Just like human medicine, veterinary medicine is always improving and the more my vet can learn the better.

Other people and animals may have different priorities, and that’s fine. What’s important is that you’ve got the vet you want instead of the one that’s closest to your house. Even if you don’t want to change vets now remember that you’ve always got the option of getting a second opinion if your pet is having a major medical or behavioral issue.

By Laura-C

Hopes to someday train her dogs not to be douchebags.

7 replies on “You’re Allowed To Fire Your Vet”

Hated the old vet at our practice, but with Daisy constantly sick and the next-nearest vet 30 minutes away, I dealt with what we had. I also love the vet techs there, so it was a trade-off. I was so happy when she left and the practice hired someone new. New vet sits out front when she’s doing paperwork and doesn’t have clients, and is always happy to answer a quick question or two.

We’re in the opposite situation. We really like our vet, and we used to live less than half a mile away! It was great-super easy to get to, and they didn’t mind us bringing the beasts in for a quick weight check when they were out on walks. It’s a small practice (2 vets) but they’ve always managed to fit us in during emergencies and are totally willing to bitch out the emergency vet on our dog’s behalf (they decided to let an intestinal obstruction wait until morning). Kinda pricey (maybe, this is the only vet we’ve dealt with in this area) and we have been known to ponder just who one would have to screw to get a friggin’ free toenail trim around here.

However, we no longer live half a mile away, and it’s taken us up to an hour to get home during rush hour (20 to 30 minutes during non-rush hour). The current plan is to keep the current crop of beasts with this vet, and move any subsequent 4-legged family members to someone closer. But I dunno. Really like them. But really far away.

I didn’t realize until I moved and had to switch vets how much I didn’t really like the old one. My new vet is awesome: the office staff is great, there are two doctors, both of whom I’ve worked with, they’re easy to get an appointment with, they’re just great.

When Little Girl Trouble had to go to the e-vet after we first got her, the regular vet got the records the next day and called me to follow up and make sure she was OK. Our dogs have a long history of e-vet visits (dog attack, seizures, eating things they shouldn’t, jumping off of things while being tiny and fragile, etc.) and our old vet never once followed up.

New place is pretty expensive, but I’m OK with paying it, because I feel like the care is worth it.

My Tessie wasn’t too happy about today’s vet visit, but that was more because she got three shots (two injections and a blood test) than because of the vet and vet techs. They’ve all been very good with her, and presumably other pets. I chose that vet because my roommate takes his (lives-inside-plays-outside) cat to them and has had good experiences with them.

Usually she goes to them for attention, comes to me, and goes back and forth until the appointment’s done…Today they took her for the first two needles and then brought her to me, and she was pretty clingy. Because I didn’t give her a trio of needles in the bum.

BUT if she was consistently uncomfortable with them, I’d find another vet. It’s as important for my kitten to have a good doctor as for me, you know?

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