Choosing the Right Veterinarian

How do you know if you have found the right veterinarian for you and your pets? Look for these signs that indicate you've found a good match.

  1. Your veterinarian is willing to refer you to a specialist when needed. Let's face it, we can't know how to fix everything - those days of Dr. Herriot style practice are long gone. While I love to perform surgery, I have no interest in performing complicated orthopedic repairs. I happily refer those cases to my surgeon colleagues. If you can name a specialty, you can find a veterinarian in that field. If you can afford the care, the specialists can perform most procedures that are available in human medicine, including MRI, CT scan, and bone marrow and kidney transplants.
  2. You can have an open dialogue and discussion with your veterinarian about the options available for diagnosis and treatment. The doctor is willing to work with your budget, beliefs, and choices so that you can work together in the best interest of your pet. The doctor does not belittle you if you don't see eye to eye on an issue.
  3. Your veterinarian stays up to date on professional standards. For example, he or she doesn't insist on a full slate of annual vaccinations without considering your dog's or cat's personal lifestyle risks. He or she manages your pet's pain and doesn't ignore it.
  4. Your veterinarian is kind to your pet. He or she doesn't use unnecessary restraint, offers treats, and speaks kindly. When restraint is necessary, it is done in the gentlest manner possible. Office staff displays professional behavior.
  5. If your veterinarian makes a mistake or things don't go as planned, he or she communicates with you about it instead of hiding and refusing to speak with you. Let's face it, we're all human. Mistakes can happen. Good communication goes a long way toward solving issues.

If you are not happy with the veterinary care your pet is receiving, you have the right to request copies of all records, including laboratory test results, imaging studies, doctor's notes, and medications prescribed. If you are leaving a practice because you are not happy with the service, you should tell them that, nicely. An office cannot improve service if they are unaware that people are unhappy. But please take the high road; offer constructive criticism without being mean.