Choosing a veterinarian for your new puppy

Depending on their age when you first bring them home, one of the first missions you should be on is that of choosing a veterinarian for your new puppy. You want to be as tedious about this as you would if you were deciding on what family doctor to go with. Since there are a number of good veterinarians available anymore, there is no excuse for not taking them to the vet regularly.

Veterinarians, just like dogs, come in all shapes and sizes. Just like with regular doctors, they can be general practitioners or they can continue training and become specialists. Though a vet may limit their practice to only cats and dogs, their range of services may be very broad in scope. Diagnosis, physicals, treatment of disorders and illnesses, and vaccinations are very common practices among the majority of veterinarians out there. Additionally, the occurrence of a veterinarian who performs in-house diagnostic tests, surgeries, or x-rays is fairly common.

Some veterinarians will continue their education to fine tune their knowledge and receive training in behavioral disorders, orthopedics, reproductive work, or skin diseases. These vets don’t always do this just for certification purposes. Sometimes they do it for the sake of compassion for animals and to help both animals and clients alike. However, though small in numbers, there are vets who have turned towards more specialized treatments and are practicing dentistry, dermatology, eye problems, and so on. Some choose to be surgeons only, while others try to be as all-encompassing as possible.

Basically there are four truths that exist when it comes to choosing a veterinarian for your new puppy. These are not hard and fast rules, only suggestions for the animal owner trying to find that perfect doctor for their pet.

Rule #1 – The majority of veterinarians are, or should be members of local medical associations – community events to educate pet owners, keeping abreast of changes in the medical laws that affect their practice, or assisting/working with animal shelters are just some of the practices that your vet should be involved with. These are the signs of a vet that truly cares about their patients and families.

Rule #2 – There is no common pricing among veterinarians; some cost more than do others – this can be due to a number of aspects of the vet’s practice. Some pull shifts like a regular doctor. Others will only work certain days of the week and specific hours of the days that they do work. Sometimes they are part of a group of vets while other times, they are a one-man clinical operation.

Rule #3 – If you have recently relocated, don’t settle on the first vet you call – call around to listings in the local yellow pages, and by all means, don’t be afraid to ask what their fees are like. Once you get a price, make sure that you find out what you are getting for the money. That $40-$50 neutering may not entail the same care, cautions, or practices that the $90-$100 does.

Rule #4 – Remember that the veterinarian is as individual as you and I are – some have the type of bedside manner that you would want for yourself and loved ones. Others are what I call a “cold fish”, having all the personality of a loaf of bread. A good vet is loving and compassionate, and oftentimes feels the same kind of pain for that animal that you do. Others can be prejudiced against certain breeds and will not show them the compassion the way they would for others. My advice has always been to use your intuition. If your initial gut feeling is not a good one, pay attention.