ANIMALS 101 – SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR OR VISITING A VET.
When you go to a veterinarian and pay for a service to treat your animals, it is your right to ask questions! Here are a few general questions then followed by what we call our “accountability” questions. Although the general questions can be answered by Google, it is best to ask the vet who has physically examined your animals. These are not the only questions.
- Is my animal at a healthy weight?
- Is my pet up to date on vaccinations?
- Is this (add odd behaviour) normal for this animal?
- How is my pet’s dental health?
- Could I be providing more appropriate food?
- What tick/flea treatment would you recommend?
- What are these lumps or bumps?
- Is my pets’ nails/claws the right length?
- Would my pet benefit from more grooming?
- At what age is my pet considered a senior?
- Any preventative care I can provide for my pet?
Can you explain my bill? Always ask for your bill, receipt and full statement. This could help in case you need to take the pet to another vet or open a case against the vet or just for the record.
Can you explain the procedure to me? Understanding the procedure can help you better prepare for when your pet comes home. We have had cases where a vet said they operated “wrongly”, more than once. They should have checked and prepared for your pets’ procedure.
Who will be doing the procedure? Most people assume the vet will. Ask anyway! If they do not do it themselves then ask for the qualification of the person who will and whether the vet will supervise them. We can share horror stories on this.
Does my pet need pain medication? Which one on the statement is pain meds? If no pain medication is given ask why not, especially when you suspect your pet is in pain? We have found a vet that rarely gives pain medication. Any animal who comes in (apart from a general visit) will probably need pain meds. Rather ask!
How many consultations/operations do you do on average a day? This is very important. Some vets brag about how many they do, or claim that that makes them more qualified than others. For us as pet owners and welfare organizations, we would not want to go to a vet who brag about how busy they are. You do the maths. How much quality time will they spend on your pet? How easily can mistakes slip in if they are so busy?
Are you the only vet in this practice? If yes, our follow-up question would be when do they rest, or are they on call 24/7, especially if they do so many procedures. Being a vet is certainly a high-stress job if you care about the sentient beings you treat. If you add a lack of proper sleep, mistakes can easily occur and it could be lethal to your pets. Are you willing to take that risk with your pet?
How do they sterilize? Do they only remove ovaries or uterus or both? Do they only tie the tubes? We have had pets who fall pregnant after sterilization and that is impossible if it was done correctly!
What are their prices? This is a very debatable topic. How does it compare to other local vets? Do your homework on this! Ask whether it includes medicatioin after the procedure, the follow-up or the removal of stitches for example.
FINDING AN EXOTIC PET VET
Not all vets are qualified or experienced to treat exotic pets. Even if they say they can, it is your responsibility to ask the right questions. We had a case with a vet where they didn’t know the rabbit should actually eat before the operation, unlike other animals. Here are some screening questions to help you find the right vet for your rabbits/exotic pets.
HOLDING VETS ACCOUNTABLE
Apart from your right to get explanations for questions, you also have the right to get a second or even third opinion! Do not allow bullying from a vet or their staff when you do this. Please report them for unethical behaviour at the SAVC. Never just blindly trust a vet and do your homework. Reviews on social media and google can be manipulated so it is not our go-to measure. Take note of how often the staff changes in terms of quitting or being fired from the practice. That is usually a good indication of the boss and work culture.
If you are unsure about the treatment you received, please contact The Paw Company. You can also check out our accountability post if you are considering opening a case at the Veterinary Council. It doesn’t cost you money. Your case might seem isolated to you, but it is worth preventing another pet from having to go through what yours did!
YOUR PET IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY and making the right choice of vet for them is on you! Next week we will look at what you should consider if you want to own (be a guardian) of a bird.
Read more on winter tips to keep your pets warm.
WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!