How to Evaluate a Veterinary Hospital
What to Expect at Your Visit
Red Flags to Watch For
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What To Expect at Your Visit
It is my hope that one day, every visit to the vet will resemble this list. With your help in demanding excellent care, I believe we can get there!
- You and your pet are greeted by name when you arrive.
- You sign-in or the time of your arrival and appointment is acknowledged. If the doctor is not able to see you at the appointed time, an effort is made to accommodate your schedule or reschedule the appointment.
- They confirm the contact information in your file is current.
In the examination room
- You are shown to a clean, well-prepped examination room.
- A nurse or technician comes in first to weigh your pet, check its temperature and do a preliminary examination. This is an appropriate distribution of duties. If the vet is doing everything themselves, you should wonder if they are understaffed.
- The nurse or technician introduces themselves or is wearing a name tag.
- The nurse or technician has your pet's record and reviews it with you noting any changes or concerns.
- If this is a first visit, they should have acquired your pet's records from your previous veterinarian. If not, the technician should take a thorough history.
With the vet
- The doctor greets you and your pet and/or introduces him or herself.
- The nurse or technician updates the doctor on the pet's condition, past history and your concerns, then stays during the exam to assist the doctor.
- The doctor’s manner with the nurse or technician is respectful and not controlling.
- The doctor performs a complete physical exam that covers checking the ears, the lymph nodes, the feet - including in between the toes, checking the nails, the skin, looking at the teeth, palpating the abdomen, checking under the tail and looking at the eyes with an ophthalmoscope.
- The doctor provides a diagnosis or outlines the steps necessary to make a diagnosis. He or she makes recommendations for treatment and ultimately gives a clear prognosis.
- You are given handouts describing the disease the veterinarian has diagnosed and the treatment given so you are armed with information.
- You are encouraged to investigate the symptoms/diagnosis on your own and share this information with the veterinarian. The doctor welcomes key information or contacts you supply to aid in the diagnosis and/or treatment of your pet.
- You are informed of the possible need for a Board Certified specialist if the diagnosis and treatment procedures are beyond the scope of the general practitioner's hospital.
- The doctor listens to your concerns and observations and exhibits respect for your knowledge of your own pet.
- The doctor addresses breed-specific problems.
- The doctor clearly establishes a plan for diagnosis and treatment. You are provided with an estimate of expenses.
- The doctor practices preventative medicine, emphasizing wellness care, and performing baseline tests for future diagnostic purposes, etc.
- To achieve the best preventative medicine for all pets, including exotics, the doctor creates a wellness profile. This is especially important for older pets. A wellness profile would include: For cats – a CBC and chemistry, a thyroid test and a urinalysis. The same is true for dogs, with the addition of a heartworm check. Senior animals should have full body X-rays, an EKG and a sonogram of the chest and abdomen.
- The doctor discusses your pet's nutrition and vaccination schedule - including informing you of the differing viewpoints on vaccination practices.
- If blood needs to be drawn, the doctor allows you the option to be present.
- Sedation is offered to ease the blood drawing process.
The emergency visit
- If the practice or hospital is closed, they refer to you a qualified 24-hour facility. They follow-up after the referral to check on the condition of your pet.
- You are kept informed of the per-diem costs and the cost of any additional procedures the doctor recommends.
- 24-hour care is provided at the hospital. Animals staying overnight and needing acute care are not left unattended.
- You are allowed to visit your pet while at the hospital. You are not discouraged from visiting.
- You receive written discharge instructions after your pet has been hospitalized and the instructions are thoroughly reviewed with you.
- You have the option to have prescriptions for medications filled at the vets or called in to another, less expensive alternative.
- If there is a 24-hour emergency clinic in your area, your regular veterinarian may encourage you to go directly to the emergency clinic in a crisis, even if he/she is open.
You are your pet's advocate! Don't settle for anything less than excellent care!