Original brand or generic
When it comes to medication – knowing about generics is actually also great thing for your human meds – not all but many of the most commonly prescribed brands also have generic alternatives on the market. In my very old past I am coming from a pharmaceutical background myself and therefore I know that this is the same in Germany and the U.S. Generic medications contain the same active ingredients s the original brand but they are different brands of different companies and very often cost a lot less than the original medication. They are neither better nor worse than the original but rather basically the same regarding the active ingredient except their price.
I do not know this a 100% for sure but in my experience here in the U.S. doctors have to specifically write it on the prescription if they allow the prescribed original brand to be substituted by a generic at the pharmacy. Or they have to put the name of the generic product on the prescription in the first place.
But if I am wrong or right here is actually not the point here. The point is to know that there often are generics available as a cheaper option and that it is always a good idea ask your vet about that when he or she is prescribing medication. Every dollar you save on medication just for choosing a different brand you can use to provide your dog with a good supplement, better nutrition or a treat. :). This is not greed but common sense and can actually save you tons of money in some cases. A vet who also cares for your wallet and measures that make sense will happily provide you with this information.
Other indicators of a good and caring vet office: attention, wait times and staff
Have an open eye on the things going on at the office even before you see the doctor.
How long are the waiting times with an appointment?
Of course there are those days when someone rushes in with an emergency right before you arrive for your appointment. And of course, everyone understands that this is a special situation and that the staff should focus on treating the emergency first.
But I am talking about your usual and average routine visit. Does the lady at the front desk pay attention to you and your dog or are people on the phone more important to her?
Are long waiting times not only an exception but normal at the office even if you made an appointment?
All of these factors tell you if the office is more focussed on making money than on the well-being of the animals they treat.
If they try to push as many patients through their office hours as possible that will likely result in longer wait times and more stress for the pets. Because they will be forced to wait in an atmosphere loaded with tension for longer periods of time making them even more nervous. The same goes if phone calls come before the actual customer at the desk.
How does the staff react if you insist to be present during procedures?
If they deny that I personally would leave and find another office. There CAN be no reason why I can not support my pet during an exam.
Chains and offices with more than one doctor
If you end up with a chain vet or an office with several doctors be aware that you should be comfortable with ALL staff members and doctors working in the office because chances are that not the same people will treat your dog every time.
In my experience this fact can become very stressful when seeing chain doctors.
A very popular chain was our first vet. And the most outstanding experience was that every time we visited we were seen by a different doctor, who had no clue of our dog’s medical history, nor the last treatments that had been performed right at that office by his or her colleagues.
Each time we had to explain everything again as if we were there for the first time.
If you have never experienced something like that let me tell you that it makes a huge difference if a doctors knows your dog’s history or not.
The office we visit now for years knows that Mila is always very nervous, they know that we want to attend all procedures and they have adjusted to that. No discussions, quick exams … makes things a lot faster and easier for everyone during routine heartworm tests, vaccinations and routine exams.
But back at that first chain office things got even worse: Not only did we start our dog’s history new with every visit. The different doctors contradicted the views of their colleagues. If one had highly recommended steroids as a therapy before the next doctor would reject them completely. A good approach in itself. But what is that worth if you cannot discuss an ongoing therapy with the same doctor next time?
It went on like this until we had enough and switched to a small local vet office. It was learning by doing for us. And it took some time.
There are really good vets and great nurses out there who really care about the animals. But it can be a hard task for us as owners to find them. And I hope that sharing my own experience helps others to be lucky. I would love to hear about your vet experiences – the good and the not so good ones. And I am sure others can benefit from your experience. Just use the comment section.