Finding A Good Vet.
Good communication between owner and vet is an important aspect of dog owning. Building a good rapport with your vet is key to getting the most appropriate treatment. At Holidays4Dogs, we always contact our carer’s local vet to build initial communication. This is useful, should any of our carers need to take guest dogs for treatment during a stay. It is so important to be well informed about your dog’s health and your vet is the best person to collaborate with on this.
Veterinary practices are springing up all over the U.K., and many are attached to large pet shop chains. Veterinary health care is a multi-million pound industry which has expanded rapidly in recent years. Not only have there been rapid advances in veterinary care, there is also a growing interest in complementary therapies. So, whether you are looking for a conventional vet, or a homeopathic vet, it is important to choose one that suits you and are able to build a repour with.
My own vet is an absolute gem. His roots are in the treatment of farm animals and horses and he was a recent winner of Equine Vet of the year. However, he also runs a small animal practice from a tumbledown 1950’s building in the middle of town. A real James Herriot character, with a no-nonsense attitude that not everyone appreciates.
I once arrived at his surgery to find him dressed head to toe in tweed, brogues and tan leather shoes. His once white, now grey, lab coat spoilt his otherwise perfect attire as he bustled about the consultation room, mumbling impatiently about this and that. Suddenly the phone rings and he snatches it up – “What?! No, I don’t want to look at your manky cat!” Pause. “Bring it round this afternoon”. Down went the receiver with a slam.
Visiting my vet is rather like stepping into an episode of All Creatures Great and Small with a dash of Victor Meldrew thrown in for added comic measure. What’s more, I am more than happy to pay for it!
My vet, as many of his clients would probably agree, has little in the way of bedside manner but this in no way puts me off. I prefer his no-nonsense and to the point approach. Despite his brusque and grumpy demeanour; I have complete faith in him. He keeps his own costs down by not having computerised systems, but a paper file system kept in a mahogany cabinet. Neither does he peddle expensive dog foods, or other products.
This is not to say of course that there aren’t brilliant vets working in sparkly new surgeries who hold your pet’s wellbeing in equal high regard – though I will wager they are not half as entertaining as mine! As long as you can establish a mutually positive relationship with your vet this, is the most important thing for your dog and your pocket.
There are genuine periods in everyone’s lives where they find themselves financially embarrassed, with a sick pet on their hands. If you are concerned about the financial aspect of treatment always be upfront with your vet about this. While most surgeries make it clear that all treatments must be paid for at the time, payment schedules may be available where treatment involves considerable expenditure. This will always be down to the individual surgery. You may wish to consider insurance which can cover you for unexpected veterinary care.
It is important to have respect for your vet and be ready with essential information when you take your dog to see him. Some dogs can act out of character and some may even try to bite. Don’t be offended if your vet prefers to muzzle your dog. The vet will be able to examine your dog much more efficiently and thoroughly. Be honest about your dog’s condition and always take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice anything untoward. If your dog has had a growth on his leg for weeks or months, your vet will know if you tell him it’s only been there since yesterday morning.
There is nothing wrong at all with doing your homework and asking questions, but ultimately veterinary training is extensive and expensive. Modern veterinary surgeries are expensive to run, veterinary nursing staff are more qualified and demand higher salaries. In addition, specialist equipment comes at considerable cost.
That said, bear in mind that being the most expensive in town, does not mean you are getting the best quality of care. Likewise, having state of the art equipment should not mean you have to pay through the nose for veterinary care. It really does make sense to choose your vet carefully – most people will go by recommendation and this is certainly a good way to begin your search.
Try to stick with one practice, or one vet, in order to build a loyal partnership. Ultimately, this will mean both you and your vet can provide the best health care for your much loved pet.
I feel I have to end with another anecdote from my own much loved vet. One afternoon I telephoned to book my Labrador in to be neutered. Never knowing quite what he is liable to say next, I winced and awaited his his response. Heaven knows why I wasn’t surprised when he snapped, “Right, bring the poor sod in then!” . This was, of course, followed swiftly by the receiver being slammed down.
There is no substitute for qualified veterinary care, but if you fancy testing your knowledge on canine health, have a go at our Holidays4Dogs first aid quiz.