Your vet is a pretty significant figure in your dog’s life – and thus, in yours. Hopefully, you’ll only ever need him or her for routine checkups and preventative procedures; but just in case, it’s worth taking the time to develop a good relationship with a suitable vet, before you need their services.
WHERE AT LOOK
Sure, you could just pick a vet at random from the Yellow Pages or from an Internet search; but having the right vet is crucial to your dog’s health and happiness (and, presumably, this plays at least some part in your own happiness and peace of mind as an owner, right?)
Think about it this way: if you were trying to choose a doctor for yourself, would you be happy to just select one at random from an impersonal list?
Probably not. You’d want somebody who comes highly recommended – somebody you feel like you can trust.
Your vet isn’t just your dog’s doctor; he or she is also the dentist, manicurist, psychologist, and – hopefully! – a friend. When you roll all these things up into one, you can see why it’s necessary to spend some time confirming that you’ve made the right choice.
The best place to start looking for a vet is by word of mouth. If you have any friends or relatives who take good care of their dogs, then that’s a great place to start: ask them who they’d recommend, and why. This last one is particularly important, because everyone has different priorities: for example, perhaps they like their own vet because he/she is a specialist in their own particular breed; or they don’t charge very much; or the clinic is only five minutes’ drive … their priorities are not necessarily yours, so it’s a good idea to make sure that your values coincide with the person giving the recommendations.
Another great place to find a vet is through local training clubs (Schutzhund, agility, herding classes, police K-9 academies, etc.) These organizations are almost guaranteed to place a great deal of importance on high-quality veterinary care, because the health and well-being of their dogs is such a priority.
Once you’ve got a list of vets that you’re interested in pursuing further, all you have to do is call up the clinic and explain that you’re looking to find a regular vet for your dog(s): can you come in for a quick chat, introduce your dog, and have a look at the premises?
HAVE A LOOK BEFORE YOU NEED TO
Before you decide to align yourself and your dog with a particular clinic, test the waters first. Ideally, you want a chance to talk to the vet, and discuss his or her philosophies and approach to pet care.
This is really important. If your dog ever really needs vet-care (if there’s an emergency, or if she needs an urgent short-term appointment), you want to be sure that you’ve made the best possible choice as far as her health and comfort levels are concerned. Neither of you should be subjected to any unnecessary extra stress at a time like that – and you can avoid a lot of grief by spending a bit of time in preparation.
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