Should You Fire Your Vet?


By Melinda Dodd

You thought you'd found the perfect vet, but things seem a little off. Don't ignore it, says Justine Lee, DV M, DACVE CC, author of It's a Cat's World…You Just Live in It. "A lot of people aren't aggressive enough when it comes to their pets' health." If you have an issue with how your animal (or you!) is being treated, say something. "Sometimes people put up with less than adequate care because it's a hassle to switch," says Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP, executive director of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Talk to your vet first to see if you can resolve the situation. If you do decide to switch, let him know why. "It might help him find a way to improve," says Dr. Cavanaugh. Watch out if:

1.Your vet's not managing her phone calls well. "If the office doesn't call you back within 24 hours of your call, that's a problem," says Dr. Lee, who admits weekends are tough. On weekdays, however, there's less of an excuse.

2. Your vet's not willing to pass you to a specialist. "I can-do-it-all" vets are dangerous, warns Nancy Kay, DVM, author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life. "Some diagnostic tests, surgeries and treatments are best performed by a veterinary specialist." Unusual infectious diseases, treatable cancer and organ failure also can benefit from expert help. "If you sense your vet doesn't refer you because she thinks she can handle everything, walk away."

3.Your vet seems to lack the sympathy gene. Beware the vet who doesn't allow hospitalized pets to have visitors, or who won't let family be present during euthanasia. "Clients deprived of those moments often suffer horrific guilt," Dr. Kay notes. "The veterinarian should want you to feel comfortable."

Find out the 10 things your vet wishes you knew.

4.Your vet doesn't give you the time you need. Doctors who can't spend an adequate amount of time explaining a complicated disease to you or never ask your thoughts aren't the sort of vet you want. "You spend more time with your pet than anyone and are an integral part of your pet's health team," says Dr. Cavanaugh. "Your input should be sought."

5.Your pet regularly shows anxiety or fear at the vet's office. Nervous pets don't always hiss or bark-they also freeze, cower, pace or try to hide. Consider whether the vet's actions make your pet feel threatened. "Pets, like people, are unique in how they handle the stress of a doctor visit," says Dr. Cavanaugh. Look at how the vet responds to your pet's fears, advises applied animal behaviorist Sophia Yin, DV M, author of Low-Stress Handling. "Does she alter what she's doing to accommodate the animal? You want someone who'll try to put your pet in a happy, comfortable state."

Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.

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