Choosing Your Pet’s Veterinarian

Reasons for choosing a particular veterinarian for your pet vary.  Perhaps you moved, requiring a change; or maybe you have just acquired a new pet and must find one quickly.  So how do you make the decision?

Talk to friends, neighbors, any pet owners you meet.  Ask for suggestions and ask why they like that particular person.  Drive by a veterinary clinic or office and see how busy they are on a weekday or Saturday morning.  If you don’t see cars in the lot, you might want to ask a few more questions.  Word of mouth is usually the best way to find the right person.  Your pet’s veterinarian should be as carefully chosen as your own doctor.

When our Gator was a puppy, we chose a local animal professional who seemed like a good man.  A few months later, nine-month-old Gator developed chronic ear problems.  Several trips to the clinic followed, with the ear being scoped each time and no real diagnosis found.

When our vet received a new, computerized ear scanner, he was excited to try it on our dog.  Gator had endured more poking, prodding and blood tests than one animal should have to deal with and wasn’t having any part of yet another instrument of torture than invaded even further down his ear canal.

When the vet tried to insert the scope into my boy’s ear, Gator pulled back and bared his teeth to show his displeasure.  He did not try to bite the man, but he was not a happy dog.  The doctor raised his arm and formed a fist with his hand, threatening out loud to slug an already frightened animal.  I grabbed Gator’s leash and beat a path to the front door, passing the receptionist with “Good luck trying to collect from me for this visit.  We won’t be back!”

I don’t believe in hitting animals.  It’s the number 1 way to create a mean dog and it serves no purpose.  For a professional to behave as this man did was uncalled for and stupid.   Needless to say, we were more careful selecting our next veterinarian.

By contrast, when we lived in Tennessee, we were blessed with Janet Childs, D.V.M., who ran a mobile veterinary operation.  We owned 2 Great Danes and a cat at the time and having her come to us in her mobile clinic saved endless effort and time.  Jan Childs truly loved her four-legged clients and my Harlequin Dane, in particular.  When Ginny became seriously ill around her first birthday, Jan struggled to find the cause.  At one very low point, she had to hospitalize Ginny and place her on intravenous antibiotics. This wonderful vet slept on the floor beside my dog all night, making sure Ginny received all she could give.  My dog eventually recovered, and I know we all owed her life to this wonderful woman.

I’ve written before about our claustrophobic, anxiety-driven Weimaraner, Gator.  This loveable, canine cannot be crated.  He goes berserk and injures himself, and we just won’t do that to him.  On top of that, he is as tall as a Great Dane and wouldn’t fit very well in most crates.  His veterinarian for several years, Dr. Donna Brinck, understood the big dog’s phobias and when she had to perform surgery on him to remove some fatty masses from his hip, she arranged a bed for him in her office, where he recovered from the anesthetic.  He followed her around the clinic until he was declared stable enough to go home.

We can’t always find such wonderful, dedicated medical professionals for our pets, but a little investigation will tell you a lot.  Observe the staff as they go about their duties.  Are they friendly with you and with the animals? Is the clinic clean?  Watch the vet’s face as he examines your pet.  Observation will go a long way in choosing the right veterinary professional.

Incidentally, much later, we learned that many of Ginny’s health problems were likely caused by the food she ate.  Back in the 1980’s, I knew nothing about canine food allergies.  Ginny was found to be highly allergic to various grasses and trees, but they didn’t routinely test dogs for food then.

I believe that Gator’s ear problems were caused by the food he ate.  Since I became more conscious of the damage that some ingredients in dog food can cause, Gator has eaten a much healthier diet.  He hasn’t suffered from ear infections in the last 5 or 6 years.  I do believe the itching, followed by some serious scratching, all contributed to the ear infections that followed.    Diet says it all!

Find a veterinarian for your pets who respects holistic medicine and recognizes the damage that the wrong diet can do to his or her clients.

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