Why and How to Choose a Good Vet for Your Dog
Choosing your veterinarian is one of the most important things you will do as a dog guardian. It’s even more important as I’m writing this because we are in full lockdown in the UK and dogs are taken off into the vet’s office without us, so we don’t get to see how they are treated in there.
The vet you choose to go to about your dog’s health is likely to be with you through some really tough times, so you need to trust them completely, for your dog’s sake as well as your own.
An important thing to consider is that dog behaviour and behavioural health is barely part of veterinary training, there’s already plenty to learn about physiology and biology. Without a good degree of science-based dog behaviour knowledge, even veterinarians can succumb to the idea/myth of dominance in dogs. It’s worth keeping that in mind first and foremost.
When you meet a new vet be sure you watch them carefully with your dog, many veterinarians are so gentle with animals, but some are not. In the same way some are gentle with people whilst others are not. If I had to choose I would choose a vet who was abrupt with me and gentle with my dogs rather than the other way around.
It's also important to assess how progressive the vet you choose and the surgery they run are, where animal stress is concerned. Over the last couple of decades, we have learned that stress and fear are really bad for our health and for the health of our beloved dogs. Excellent veterinary surgeries know this and do all they can to alleviate the stress and fear of their patients. They do this by considering consent and choice for dogs as much as possible.
The vet’s waiting room is one of the most stressful places there is for a dog who has been poorly. Even if they haven’t been ill or hurt which has been associated with the vet, they will pick up on each other’s fear if they all sit in the same room waiting to see the vet. It’s a good idea to avoid that if you can and a progressive veterinary surgery will take steps to make sure the waiting room is as stressless as possible, if used at all. Waiting in the car or even the car park can be a better option for a worried dog, or any dog in fact, because sitting watching other stressed animals and people is going to convince any dog that this place could be bad for their health.
It can be so hard choosing the right vet but look for the good signs and the warning bells and often your instinct will tell you if you’re in the right place.
Consider the following points:
- What are their reviews from others like?
- Do they have good or bad reviews generally?
- Does your dog seem to like them?
- How do you feel around the vet and anyone who interacts with your dog?
- How do the surgery staff talk interact with your dog?
- If they lift a small dog and carry them, do they do it with respect to how the dog’s body is arranged?
- Do they give your dog the chance to get used to the idea of being touched or do they rush them into an examination?
- Is there any or a lot of restraint – is the restraint they do use really needed?
- Do they explain everything carefully to you, do they communicate their intentions to your dog?
- Most importantly, do they instil faith in you? We humans have an instinctive nature and if something doesn’t feel right to you, then it’s probably not.