Choosing a vet - What to look for
  • mb4imb4i
    Posts: 12
    So while I've always grown up with dogs, my family has a very casual view on pet health and by very casual I'm afraid to say basically nonexistent. I can only recall going to the local ASPCA animal hospital two different times with our dogs and that was only at my own insistence as a child (I wouldn't stop talking about it and my father finally caved in). We have gone to one of those free pet vaccination trucks when we see them but that was years ago. We just never had a reason to go to the vet I guess. If we don't see a problem, there isn't a problem.
    Obviously, this is a huge problem and I do not want to repeat this when I have my own dog and hopefully something I can use to teach my family (very stubborn people they are) about the importance of pet health. Unfortunately, I have no idea on how to go about choosing a vet and I would very much like some advice.

    Is going to a general animal clinic an appropriate substitute for a dedicated vet for your animal if you want to save money?
    What are red flags that I should take note of when I visit a clinic?
    What are some green checks?

    Also for any members in the Dallas area, it would be awesome if you could tell me what vet you are currently going to and why you keep going to the same vet.
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1905
    I basically only go to clinics for my vaccinations UNLESS my animals have not been to a vet recently (in the last year) OR I have other concerns.

    I am a little lax on vet care. If there is not a problem and my dogs are UTD on vaccines, I don't go to a vet.

    But my Kishu also see vets for health checks - like thyroid and elbows and eyes and soon, for progesterone tests

    For me, I want a vet who doesn't try to up sell me and doesn't mess around. I want a vet who is frank and candid. I want a vet who doesn't shy from my animals. I'm pretty easy to please, I think, but it can be difficult!

    Red flags are probably any squirming or shying away from the dogs. I've had this with more vets than you can guess, I'd bet. Especially with my Malamute (who is probably the least flinchy of all of my dogs during vet checks...) if a vet can't handle my 'moot, I never want to see them again and certainly don't trust them to handle my NK.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 ||
  • Here is a link with some suggestions on finding a vet:

    When we were looking for a vet I searched websites of local vets to narrow the search a bit. Then I went in to visit, check the facilities and talk to the vet and staff. We went with the one we were most comfortable with, had good facilities, and was convenient.

    A big plus is that Yuki absolutely loves the vet. I walk him down for visits once in awhile and he goes nuts when he knows that is where we are going.

    If you know other dog owners in your area talk to them about their vet. You can always switch if you aren't comfortable for any reason
  • Yeah, definitely avoid a vet that up sells anything. I'm pretty wary of vet offices that the entire waiting room is promotion for crappy dog food. Just screams to me that they're more concerned making money from food manufacturers than whats actually good for the dog. (Hint: NONE of those foods are actually GOOD for the dog.)
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • SixSix
    Posts: 96
    I don't own Nihon Ken but I do own four large 'scary looking' dogs, so I hope you don't mind me adding a couple things in here too.

    When looking for a vet the most important thing for me is that the vet is confident at being around and handling my dogs. We've had a few that jump backwards or make sudden movements after touching the dogs and they turn their heads sharply to look at what's touching them. Which instantly puts me off - like ... you work with dogs ALL DAY but you can't touch my German Shepherd without flinching?

    One of my Northern Inuits is epileptic, so as you can imagine we spend more time at the vets than we would like. He has been hospitalised twice this year, once with my normal vet and once with my emergency vet and I think it's important that you trust your vet staff enough that you feel comfortable leaving your animal's care in their hands when they need it.

    Watch out for the money-grabbers as people have mentioned. Don't fall for any vet that recommends whatever food they have out front, or any vet that tries to dissuade you from feeding raw if that's a route you decide to go down (the amount of dirty looks I've had in the past from vets) a lot of veterinary nutrition classes are actually sponsored and run by the big food companies (the ones that stick a load of crap in their food and then charge extortionate amounts for it).

    We are also currently looking for a new vet :( the vet who took Yoyo through his epilepsy diagnosis left our surgery and since then we've had nothing but problems with temporary staff not being confident with my dogs or wanting to change Yoyo's medication to something that isn't licensed or tested for his condition.

    Also it's important to have a 'stock' of essential items (a sort of home first aid kit for your dog) as a first line of defence. Often I don't take my dogs to the vet unless it's something I cannot sort out myself.

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
  • mb4imb4i
    Posts: 12
    Thank you everyone for your input! All of them are very enlightening and makes me glad that I asked. I'm quite stunned at the sort of negative experience you guys have listed.

    What do you have in your doggie first aid kit? I imagine that it is catered to your dogs but I am curious. I honestly never thought of that before.
  • SixSix
    Posts: 96
    In my doggy first aid kit:

    Pro-Kolin - an anti-diarrhoea paste which you can add to food when your dog has a upset tummy. Not sure if this is available outside of the UK but there is probably a similar product. I find it cheaper to buy this online than ending up going to my vets with a dog with upset tummy and have them give it to me anyway and charge me double the price!

    Piriton - anti allergy tablets actually made for humans, good if your dog has a reaction to something (bee stings, rashes etc). Also a good first line defence if your dog has a severe allergic reaction to help give you time to get them to a vet (if their faces swell up and begins to block their airways piriton can help delay the reaction and buy you some time to get your dog straight to the vet). Always use Piriton and never Piriteze as they contain different ingredients.

    Tick-tweezers - I use O-tom tweezers because I find them easiest to handle.

    A small bottle of hibiscrub and water solution - hibiscrub is a medical solution used to clean wounds, so good for cuts and scrapes which you don't want to get infected (in the absence of hibiscrub, salt water is a good alternative).

    Hypocal or Vetericyn - same as above, both are wound sprays that kill off bacteria and promote healthy healing.

    Cotton pads - to apply hibiscrub solution.

    Crepe bandage, dressings & vetwrap - if a wound needs to be dressed before it can be looked at by a vet.

    Small pair of sharp scissors.

    Roll of surgical tape.

    Steristrips - never found a use for them yet, they are crap at holding wounds closed.

    I also have to carry a couple more specialised things around with me. Phenobarbitone and Diazepam for my epileptic.

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1905
    Hah, my first aid kit has most of the same things as @six - I also have clippers (electronic - it's just an electric razor, really) to shave down fur if an injury needs looking at or cleaning. Pro-Kolin is something like Cerenia here and Benedryl is my go-to allergy pill.

    I've never used steristrips on anything but ear wounds in dogs, but I have a couple anyway - and the weird slick bandages used for making new skin. I don't use those on the dogs, but on me, for when I get bit or clawed something bad. Just in case.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 ||
  • Something else you want to take into account is the services the vet offers. We chose our current vet because they had an animal behaviorist (which we needed for Roe). They also have a full surgery suite, x-ray, long term boarding, and can fill some medications at the office :-O, along with other things I can't think of off the top of my head. It may cost a little more in the long run but its nice to know if your dog ever needs anything other than the normal check up it can be done in a familiar place with familiar people.
    Post edited by Vulpesvulpes89 at 2015-11-24 16:13:24
  • Vet wrap plus a maxi pad makes a very good temporary wound dressing, fyi. Found this out a couple years ago when two girls I had got in a fight and I needed to dress a leg bite to get the dog to the vet. Happened to have vet wrap that came in my whelping kit.

    Vet wrap is a stretchy, elasticized "paper" that sticks only to itself. Unwraps cleanly for re-use. Much better than having to use an ace bandage or something that requires metal clamps or tape to keep on.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1905
    Self adhesive bandages are also super important, yes!
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 ||
  • zoomiazoomia
    Posts: 16
    I'm with Crispy on this one, the dogs go to the vet for necessary stuff and that's pretty much it. I would call myself fairly lax too. My local vet is great, it's great care, but pretty no-nonsense. If I had a particular problem, I would probably seek out a specialist, but knock on wood, haven't had to deal with that.
  • NoodleNoodle
    Posts: 18
    I only choose vets that is totally okay with me feeding my dogs raw. I had vets say I'm killing my dogs and how kibble is soooo much healthier, ugh. Also, I avoid vets that try to pressure me into spaying my show corgi, then sneer and give me bad service when I explain to them that I can't spay her due to the show contract with her breeder.

    My Kai is a bit shy at the vet so it makes it 10x worse when the vet is super scared as well, instead of showing confidence and helping her realize that it's okay.
    Naomi Romero, Illustrator!
    Post edited by Noodle at 2015-12-21 01:58:21
  • HeidiHeidi
    Posts: 3386
    Above all else, you want a vet that shares, or at least respects, your values and philosophies on pet health. For example, one thing that I value is a vet that will instruct me on how to do something at home, if that's at all possible. Some vets resist that, and will try to get you to come in for absolutely everything (for instance, administering subcutaneous fluids to my cat who has kidney disease can be done at home, but some vets INSIST you bring them in every time). I also worm them myself, and if any vet gives me a hard time about that, I don't go back to them. I got into the home care habit when I lived out of town and I had to call the vet before bringing anyone in anyway to make sure they would be there (country vet). More often than not, the vet would just talk me through whatever it was over the phone.

    I also like to help at the vet's office holding/restraining my pets, or anything else a layperson can do. I also want honest vets, and I test them by asking questions I already know the answer to. I just had a bad experience with a vet suggesting a bunch of tests that would not have helped at all (I knew that because I had done my research), and she even admitted as much when pressed.

    Another thing I like to know is what they would do if I were ever unable to pay. I've never been in that situation, thankfully, but 1) you never know, and 2) I think it says a lot about the vet. There are some vets that will euthanize your pet if you can't pay and I find that abhorrent.
    Dogs: Rakka (shikoku), Sosuke (kai), Effie (bc/kelpie)
    Cats: Hester, Batgirl, Stephanie, Harley
  • Here's a good article also--

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