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  #1  
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:22 PM
gkjones gkjones is offline
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How to Find a Good Vet

When interviewing a new vet, what questions should we ask? I need to find a new vet for my cats and want someone with real expertise with cats. In Connecticut we can check their license status online and see whether there have been any disputes against their license. But what else in terms of credentials should we look for, ask about?

Are there reputable sites that rate veterinarians?

What should would look for in the services they provide, their diagnostic ability, their hours of operation, etc? It seems that so many vets only have day operations and no relationship with an after-hours facilty. That concerns me.
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  #2  
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:30 PM
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diandpat diandpat is offline
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Wow, I really don't know what to tell you about this as we were "assigned" a vet when we went to the clinic at first with Ginger and ended up hitting the jackpot!!!!

Definitely word of mouth...ask around other people you know who have pets and find out where they go and why they do/don't like it.

Our vet is very reasonable...doesn't jump to do every expensive test imaginable just to raise $$$ for the clinic.

Sounds like you are on the right track now doing research and asking questions.

Why do you need to find a new vet? Could your former vet give you a referral if it is a retirement case perhaps?

Good luck!
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  #3  
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:46 PM
gkjones gkjones is offline
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I think my current vet is incompetent, to put it bluntly. My other vet retired and this fellow took over the practice.

Examples: Took two days to diagose a serious cardiac problem, which was in an advanced stage (and he'd seen her for a full checkup on November 1st). Showed me the textbook he plans to read on feline cardiology when he has time ... when my cat had just been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. Decided on her treatment by consulting his "vet nerdbook". Said there was "no risk of clots" with dilated cardiomyopathy, suggesting that perhaps he should have read the textbook before he began to treat cats. Doesn't monitor his staff: Had my acutely ill cat in for the day to be monitored on Monday. When I arrived to pick her up I learned (a) that his staff neglected to turn on the heating pad on what was a frigid day here in CT for this poor cat who couldn't maintain her own body heat, so her body temp dropped into hypothermia range; (b) that when she wouldn't eat on her own, rather than syringe feed her which was our protocol, they didn't do anything; (c) that she was on the same towel, now urine soaked, she'd been put on when I dropped her off in the morning; and (d) that they and he didn't know whether she'd been given her dose of aspirin but according to him it was "okay to give her a dose because it wouldn't hurt her." They called this an "intensive care" day.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. My little cat had to be euthanised on Friday (not there; I took her to a well respected emergency clinic 40 minutes from my house), so I'm mourning and bitter. I don't know if more adequate care would have made a difference, but I'm not willing to risk the life and well being of my other cat on this boob.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 04:50 PM
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diandpat diandpat is offline
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OMG what a nightmare. Poor you and my deepest condolences at the loss of your poor cat.

It definitely sounds like you would do well to find a new vet.

Hopefully someone will come along who lives closer to you who might have a better idea what direction to point you in.

Again, if you know people with pets, ask them who they use.

Again, so sorry for your loss
poor kitty
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  #5  
Old December 29th, 2008, 04:51 PM
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sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gkjones View Post
When interviewing a new vet, what questions should we ask?
Here is a great link discussing some of the criteria to keep in mind when choosing a vet: http://www.protectthepets.com/pet_owners/

Quote:
Originally Posted by gkjones View Post
I need to find a new vet for my cats and want someone with real expertise with cats.
Are there any feline-only practices in your area? Not that this is a guarantee that they'll be good vets, but because they can focus entirely on cats, they tend to be a little more up-to-date on specifically feline issues. In a regular veterinary practice, only about 30% of the clientelle are cats, so it's understandable that some of those vets aren't as feline-savy.

Another option to consider is a holistic vet. Again, not a guarantee, but I like the concept of treating the whole animal and not just a specific ailment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gkjones View Post
It seems that so many vets only have day operations and no relationship with an after-hours facilty. That concerns me.
Absolutely something to be concerned about. I personally would stay away from a clinic that can't refer you to an emergency hospital.
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  #6  
Old December 29th, 2008, 06:26 PM
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mummummum mummummum is offline
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Good link Sugarcatmom. I don't know much about cat clinics but, in clinics in general I know what I like.

Cleanliness is a basic necessity ~ period. If it doesn't look clean to my naked eye then there is a large chance of being everywhere.

Facilities: make sure that the lay-out is suitable to your pet. If you have an animal with mobility issues, stairs into and inside of the clinic may pose a problem. If there is a shortage of staff to lift or if your animal has a fear of being lifted, exam tables have to be stretcher-style (lift up and down).

The reception staff must be welcoming to me and pet-friendly. At my clinic, the staff always come around or lean over the counter to say hello and on our way out make a point to give one of my waggers a treat and a bit of luvin's. In my clinic, it's unusual to wait but it is a busy one and when there will be a wait they always let me know if the doctor can't see me at our scheduled time, why, how long I might expect to wait and ask whether I would like to see another doctor. They also respond in hyper-time on any occasion I've brought one of my dog's in distress.

The Tech's must be knowledgeable and sensitive to my animal's "peculiarities" and their physical needs. In other words, I need to know they're listening to me when I tell them about my animal and see them use the skills they've been taught, with the information I've given them, to help my animal through whatever it is we're doing that day. Like nurses, tech's are the world's unsung heroes in my books.

Current diagnostic equipment can be important (I'll put a stress on "can" as one of the best vets I've ever met came out to our farm ~ another life of mine ~ with not much more than a stethoscope). But, if you are dealing with a clinic, it's sometimes helpful, timesaving and cost-saving if they have their own x-ray, ultrasound etc.. This can become particularly important when you have an animal with a chronic illness.

The vet: I like my vet because she likes my dogs and is really good with them, she is knowledgeable about vet medicine, keeps her self current by attending conferences and reading the journals, she is open to ideas and discussion with me and is willing to respect a "difference of opinion", her staff respect her and like her and she is willing to say "I don't know ~ time for a specialist". And she is great with follow-up and care, recognizing that I have little more free time than she does, "checking-up" whether it's by phone, by email, fax or in person.

It's a package deal and it's not unlike falling in love ~ you just know when you have the real thing.
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  #7  
Old December 29th, 2008, 07:01 PM
gkjones gkjones is offline
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Good recommendations, SugarcatMom and Mummummum. I really like the "Red Flags to Watch For" at the link you posted, SugarcatMom -- and Mummummum you are so on target about the facilty being clean, accessible, and welcoming.

It seems to me, too, that we can directly ask the vet what her/his training and experience are with whichever animal we're bringing in for care. Are there particular diseases/disorders they have expertise with? If relevant, what is their experience with more senior animals and what do they see as different, if anything, about their care and monitoring?

I think if I spend some time thinking back over these past two weeks with my little one and ask myself, "If you had the opportunity to go back and start with choosing this vet" I could generate a useful list. It may be a productive way to channel some of my grief, too. I'll see what I can do.
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  #8  
Old December 31st, 2008, 02:34 AM
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Dr Lee Dr Lee is offline
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An important quality I also recommend people ask is how often they refer people to specialists and utilize them.

Beware the veterinarian that does not refer and can 'do it all'. Healthcare should be a team effort to give the patient the best care.
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  #9  
Old January 6th, 2009, 07:16 PM
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lm9012 lm9012 is offline
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First of all, my condolences on your loss. little one..

Quote:
Originally Posted by mummummum View Post
she is knowledgeable about vet medicine, keeps her self current by attending conferences and reading the journals, she is open to ideas and discussion with me and is willing to respect a "difference of opinion",
Great point mummmum..and others have offered excellent points as well. I find that if you are lucky enough to not have pets with any chronic or serious illnesses, most vets will do just fine. They can handle the standard annual tests/shots etc. It's when you have issues, that the true colors of the vet can appear.

I think mummum's point on the vet staying abreast of the latest technologies, and being open minded are SUPER CRUCIAL!! I'm one of those people that wants to know everything there is to know about anything with my dog, so when we were diagnosed with kidney disease, I was all over it. I've had plenty of run-ins with vets. I've heard the 'Well, I'M the one that went to vet school here!!' so many aren't used to owners taking such a head-on responsibility for their pets, and often may not inform us because they dont' want to 'overwhelm' us. They may be so close minded and stick to what may have worked 20 years ago, and refuse to see what new developments are out there. It can be very frustating, not to mention heartbreaking to have a sick pet, and no one to help you.

See if you can maybe have a consultation with the vet first, without the pet just to get a feel for them. You can ask for references as well. Many practices have several vets on staff...so you may not get the same one, all the time. I do think it's good to at least know what their referral processes are, and what kind of diagnostic equipment they offer..just in case.

It took me thousands of dollars, and four vets to find my current vet..and I am eternally grateful to find him. He works WITH me..hey he's the vet, but I know my dog. We have to work TOGETHER. he also doesn't dismiss my research or undermines me. We follow a clear path and together have helped extend my dog's life and enrich the quality of his life.

Our first visit was over an hour long! and he sat there drawing me a picture of a kidney, explaining everything. It was awesome!

I also love that while he isn't holistic per say, he's all for a lof of homeopathic remedies, and believes in 'treating the whole animal', he encourages my home feeding and vitamin supplements, etc. He sends me links to research he's doing, papers he's read or wrote...I can't ask for more.

I hope you find an awesome vet soon and I'm glad you are done with that quack!!
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