The United States is home to more than 70,000 veterinarians. Many of these vets are amazing caretakers, as professional as they are qualified. Some simply aren’t worthy of your patronage or more worryingly, of your trust.
Maybe you recently moved to a new area or adopted a pet for the first time. Maybe your longtime vet is retiring or you’ve decided you need something different. Whatever the case, choosing a new vet can be overwhelming – your pet’s life is at stake!
Here are a few “red flags” to watch out for when it’s time to choose a new vet.
Dictation Over Discussion
The best vets view care as a collaboration between the patient, the pet owner, and themselves. If your vet is telling you what to do rather than discussing it with you, it might be time for a switch. Vets, of course, are the experts. That said, a pet’s owner is the absolute best source of information about the animal and is always, always more in-tune with their pet’s specific situation than anyone else could ever be. If your vet’s advice feels more like a directive than as the opening to a conversation, maybe it’s time to talk to someone new.
If you ever get the sense your vet is simply checking boxes in a computer screen to determine the right course of action for your pet, move on. Medicine is becoming more and more automated by the day and while technology can certainly streamline logistics and help keep everyone on the same page, it shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all. Your vet should be using technology as a tool, not Cliff’s Notes; if they seem to be relying too much on what their computer system is telling them then they’re either not as experienced and intuitive as you need them to be or they’re being held back by the practice they work for. Either way, you don’t want any part of it.
The Hard Sell
Did you know some vets, particularly those who work for large, big-box veterinary clinics, work on quotas? In the industry it’s actually called “production” and it’s basically the idea that your vet has to sell a certain amount of specific products, upsell by a certain percentage, or see X number of clients in a day. Healthcare shouldn’t be driven by quotas. If you get the sense your vet is trying to sell you on an expensive medication or diagnostic test you might not need, trust your gut. You need a vet, not a salesperson.
One Size Fits All
Veterinary medicine is not (and should not be) one size fits all. Your pet is different from everyone else’s pet. Maybe she’s smaller or more sensitive to certain foods or more adventurous outdoors. Whatever the case, what she needs isn’t going to be the same as what your neighbor’s pet needs. Great vets understand that everything from vaccination schedules to surgical procedures to holistic therapies are flexible, and treat them as such. The treatment(s) you choose for your pet should reflect your own wishes and lifestyle, and they should be totally unique to you.
You Just Don’t Feel Comfortable
You know how some dogs and cats seem to have a sixth sense about people? That’s a real thing, and humans have it too. Some vets and patients simply aren’t a match! That’s okay, and it doesn’t mean anyone’s done anything wrong. If you just never click with your pet’s vet – maybe your rapport isn’t natural, their tone never set right with you, or your pet never warmed to them – it’s a good idea to mix things up. The perfect vet for you isn’t necessarily the perfect vet for someone else, and that’s the great thing about having options. Never, ever stick with a vet you don’t like just because they’re close, they’re cheap, or they’re convenient. That’s not enough!
Your pet is family which is why choosing a veterinarian feels so personal. It’s like inviting someone new into the family…it’s natural to wonder whether you’re making the right choice! Our best advice is to give a new vet time to get to know your pet (and for your pet to get to know them) but to always, always trust your gut. You know best.