This is not going to be a straight step-by-step guide to finding a vet but more of a report about my own experiences with vets with both a very sick dog as well as with routine care of a pretty healthy one.
Vets are an important and frequent part of our pets’ lives and finding the right one means finding someone we trust and our pets like – or, well, at least accept. 🙂
Vets are real doctors but after all veterinary medicine is also a business. That is important to realize as the owner of a pet. Seeing it this way is not a bad thing because it means vets are also business people aiming for happy customers to return for their services.
This is the best chance for us as owners to do our own part and take action: ask questions, be skeptical, be informed and consider even unpopular advice and not just the quick and dirty solutions at some point.
Finding a vet with good customer ratings today with the help of the internet and online reviews does not seem to be such a hard thing to do. But it is actually important to first know as an owner what we are really looking for in order to find the right vet for our Bull Terrier.
If we have to fix our car we have to make similar decisions:
Do we want a cheap and quick fix only to feel good for the moment?
Or do we seek long-lasting solutions and are willing to invest more time into finding the best service and quality parts?
A story about the differences between vets of different Nations
It is actually a funny thing and probably a very personal experience. I am not sure if this is transferrable to a wide range of cases in the U.S.: I personally have experienced vets in the U.S. (Florida) to be quite different from vets in Germany, where I originally come from.
The following does not intend to state that either ones are better or worse regarding their education and competence. My point is a different one.
Here’s what I have experienced:
A German vet will generally be very focussed on the longterm wellbeing of the animal, which could result in less quick fixes and more suggestions for slower working therapies, but with a more sustainable result.
American vets of course also love our pets and treat them well. But here the good feeling of the owner about his/ her pet seems to be priority number one. Many reassurances that the pet will be well in no time and a lot of quick working solutions to me seem normal here, at least in my experience.
The mysterious room in the back
A real-life example of differences is the exam itself or to be more exact treatments. In Germany we were always present during exams and everything that happened, be it shots or any treatments. The only exception was surgery, of course. To us – me and my husband – this was always something given and we never gave it much thought until we moved to the U.S.
In every office we visited here the staff tried to take our dog to some mysterious back office we were not allowed to enter for any shots and treatments beyond a simple examination.
First, the doctor discussed the problem with us, in a small room, then our dog was supposed to go to the back in order to return to us like new. 🙂
That just seems to be common practice in the U.S. or at least in Florida.
We on the other hand were very alienated by it.
And you may understand why if you ever had the same feeling in the past yourself: Of course we knew that the vet’s staff was only trying to help our pet. But it felt just bad to let our suffering Bull Terrier go and not be with her and comfort her during the treatment. At that time we had a Bull Terrier with massive health issues, so it almost never was only about a simple vaccination or a routine exam.
We were afraid that she would be extra terrified by that strange environment, she had a deadly fear of vet offices, being among strangers not knowing what will be happening to her.
These feelings were so overwhelming for us that we decided to not accept this proceeding and insisted on being present during all treatments.
It has since been a discussion every time we had to visit a new vet. But our strategy has always been successful.
Your presence can be comforting to your pet during treatments
Mila, the older she grows, is also not very fond of vet procedures even though she has never experienced anything bad so far. The worst thing where shots and blood drawings, which – I get that – are also scary.
But she is much more compliant when we are around than she would be without us. We talk to and her stroke and we – her family – are just there for her.
The last time the nurse tried to check her body temperature with a thermometer in her ear Mila did not want to hold still until I took the device and did it myself. Mila just hates being handled around her ears.
The nurse is a very competent person in my view and does handle furry patients in an excellent way, especially when it comes to critical things like drawing blood. It’s just quick and over.
But to Mila she will always be kind of a stranger doing odd things on every one of the rare occasions they meet. From that perspective things do look a little different, don’t they?
Mila experiences less stress with us around and is able to trust that nothing bad is going to happen to her.
Being around as the owner, knowing how to touch and handle your dog can also make the difference between adding an extra scare to everything in the form of a muzzle – or not. Despite all of Mila’s reservations we never had to use one at the vet’s so far.
And on the other hand when being present yourself as the owner and the person having a real connection and knowing your dog best you can advise staff on how to handle certain behaviors. You can inform about the things your pet tolerates and the ones it doesn’t and you can interfere in time and avoid trouble.
We have now managed to find a vet we feel comfortable with and who responds to our “German” way of handling things. You know, the one with that excellent nurse and nice, competent and open-minded doctors.