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In light of past and recent tragic events that have occured at the vet's office. Here are some tips for new pet owners choosing a vet for the first time, or to any pet owner for starting that healty dialogue with your vet.

Reasonable Expectations for Veterinary Care

1. Get a current copy of your record after every visit.
In most states you are entitled to a copy of the vet record. Your pet’s record is part of what you are paying for. An accurate record tells the story of your pet’s medical life. Even if you cannot interpret a lab report, another vet may be able to if you were to seek a second opinion.


2. Get a second opinion.
Be wary of a vet that would discourage you from seeking a second opinion. Even if your Vet is saying everything is fine, a second set of eyes doesn’t hurt anything. Also think carefully about a second opinion from a Vet of your Vet’s choosing (like his partner). It should be someone that you seek independently.


3. Be careful about the Vet that removes your pet from your sight during examinations.
You should be allowed to stay with your pet during routine procedures. Be wary of the vet that consistently takes your dog “to the back” for procedures that could easily be performed in full view such as injections, temp taking etc. Ask yourself, would you allow your pediatrician to do this to your child?


4. Make sure your vet uses written consent forms for surgery, anesthesia, lab work, and other tests and procedures.
As a pet owner you are entitled to informed consent. Meaning that all risks, benefits and alternatives should have been explained to you in advance.


5. Find out what provisions are made for pets requiring overnight stays.
If your dog is sick enough to require hospitalization or has just undergone a major surgical procedure, how will he or she be cared for overnight and on weekends? What if your dog manages to slip out of his elizabethen collar and chews open his surgical incision while hospitalized and left alone for 8 to 12 hours at a time. It is perfectly reasonable for you to expect that your hospitalized family member receive round-the-clock care. There are a few different ways this can happen. While a 24-hour hospital staffed with a veterinarian is ideal, this simply does not exist in all communities here are some other viable options:
a. A veterinarian comes into the clinic multiple times during the night and on weekends to check on the hospitalized patients (some vets prefer to take their patient’s home with them to help make monitoring and supervision more convenient).
b. A skilled veterinary nurse (technician) comes into the clinic multiple times during the night and on weekends to check on the hospitalized patients and has access to contacting the vet should the need arise.
c. Your pet comes home with you, but only after you receive thorough monitoring instructions along with a way to reach your vet should questions or concerns arise. As scary as this might sound, this remains a better option than leaving your best little buddy left completely unsupervised overnight. Just imagine how you would feel lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to intravenous fluids, and no one entering your room to check on you for twelve long hours!

6. Make sure your Vet has a valid license
Sounds crazy, but some vets are practicing with lapsed or expired licenses, or practicing in a state that they don’t have a license to practice in.

7. Look for a notification in the Vets office of where to file a complaint with the State.
In most states this is a requirement. It should be posted in an area that is easily seen by the public. If it isn’t posted, take note. The vet may have a disciplinary record that should be checked with the state.

8. Listen with your instincts.
If you don’t get a good feel from a vet visit, or that they are not being totally open with you pay attention. Pay attention to significant behavioral changes in your pet. Don’t get distracted by other superficial aspects such as how nice the office looks, or how cheap the prices are.

Choosing a vet based on lowest pricing, by the way. can be a fatal mistake. Be warned. By focusing on your pets and your instincts first, you can go a long way to avoiding harm coming to your pet.

9. Never assume anything.
Ask any and every question that comes to your mind. No matter how small and insignificant it may seem. A good vet should be willing to engage in dialogue with you and listen to your concerns even though you are a lay person.
 

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In light of past and recent tragic events that have occured at the vet's office. Here are some tips for new pet owners choosing a vet for the first time, or to any pet owner for starting that healty dialogue with your vet.

Reasonable Expectations for Veterinary Care

1. Get a current copy of your record after every visit.
In most states you are entitled to a copy of the vet record. Your pet’s record is part of what you are paying for. An accurate record tells the story of your pet’s medical life. Even if you cannot interpret a lab report, another vet may be able to if you were to seek a second opinion.


2. Get a second opinion.
Be wary of a vet that would discourage you from seeking a second opinion. Even if your Vet is saying everything is fine, a second set of eyes doesn’t hurt anything. Also think carefully about a second opinion from a Vet of your Vet’s choosing (like his partner). It should be someone that you seek independently.


3. Be careful about the Vet that removes your pet from your sight during examinations.
You should be allowed to stay with your pet during routine procedures. Be wary of the vet that consistently takes your dog “to the back” for procedures that could easily be performed in full view such as injections, temp taking etc. Ask yourself, would you allow your pediatrician to do this to your child?


4. Make sure your vet uses written consent forms for surgery, anesthesia, lab work, and other tests and procedures.
As a pet owner you are entitled to informed consent. Meaning that all risks, benefits and alternatives should have been explained to you in advance.


5. Find out what provisions are made for pets requiring overnight stays.
If your dog is sick enough to require hospitalization or has just undergone a major surgical procedure, how will he or she be cared for overnight and on weekends? What if your dog manages to slip out of his elizabethen collar and chews open his surgical incision while hospitalized and left alone for 8 to 12 hours at a time. It is perfectly reasonable for you to expect that your hospitalized family member receive round-the-clock care. There are a few different ways this can happen. While a 24-hour hospital staffed with a veterinarian is ideal, this simply does not exist in all communities here are some other viable options:
a. A veterinarian comes into the clinic multiple times during the night and on weekends to check on the hospitalized patients (some vets prefer to take their patient’s home with them to help make monitoring and supervision more convenient).
b. A skilled veterinary nurse (technician) comes into the clinic multiple times during the night and on weekends to check on the hospitalized patients and has access to contacting the vet should the need arise.
c. Your pet comes home with you, but only after you receive thorough monitoring instructions along with a way to reach your vet should questions or concerns arise. As scary as this might sound, this remains a better option than leaving your best little buddy left completely unsupervised overnight. Just imagine how you would feel lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to intravenous fluids, and no one entering your room to check on you for twelve long hours!

6. Make sure your Vet has a valid license
Sounds crazy, but some vets are practicing with lapsed or expired licenses, or practicing in a state that they don’t have a license to practice in.

7. Look for a notification in the Vets office of where to file a complaint with the State.
In most states this is a requirement. It should be posted in an area that is easily seen by the public. If it isn’t posted, take note. The vet may have a disciplinary record that should be checked with the state.

8. Listen with your instincts.
If you don’t get a good feel from a vet visit, or that they are not being totally open with you pay attention. Pay attention to significant behavioral changes in your pet. Don’t get distracted by other superficial aspects such as how nice the office looks, or how cheap the prices are.

Choosing a vet based on lowest pricing, by the way. can be a fatal mistake. Be warned. By focusing on your pets and your instincts first, you can go a long way to avoiding harm coming to your pet.

9. Never assume anything.
Ask any and every question that comes to your mind. No matter how small and insignificant it may seem. A good vet should be willing to engage in dialogue with you and listen to your concerns even though you are a lay person.
:good post - perfect:good post - perfect:good post - perfect
 

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Very good post!!!! I feel very fortunate to have found two wonderful vets. I!ve taken my last group of dogs to the same practice that my present dogs go to. If they don't have an answer for you they'll find it or they'll refer you to another . They always explain everything to me in detail. They are very loving kind and very through! I always tell them that I wish that they were 'people" doctors, I!d be their patient. I couldn't imagine taking mine anywhere else!
 

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Thanks Pam for the great reminders. I know I always assumed that pets that were hospitalized had someone checking on them throughout the night.
 

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Pam, I've been thinking of posting something like this too. I'm shocked and saddend by several recent events. Just be forewarned...if you take a proactive role in your fluffs healthcare, ask questions, seek alternative options, 2nd opinions, etc... you will be labeled a 'special client'. So get some thicker skin now. I'm still working on my thicker skin. :blush: And what finally helped was when I spoke to the vet we had been seeing previously whose vet tech did something so wrong in how she handled Jett, who had a sudden behavior change that went from loving all people (strangers) and dogs to being very fearful. His was related to vision impairment. (That seems to have actually improved! But that's another story and a thread of it's own.) And they were very much aware of this. And this tech had taken some behavioral courses and was considered their 'behavior expert'. However she had not taken any continuing ed courses in over 10 years and was really not using what she had learned. When I told this vet about it, he immediately defended the tech telling me what she did was absolutely correct. Which told me he has had zilch education in animal behavior. (Most vets don't since very few vet schools have an Animal Behavior Science Dept.) The last straw was when another vet in the practice gave Callie the absolute worst antibiotic and unneccesary pain meds for her breed and her size. She is now dealing with symptoms of antibiotic induced leaky gut. But I'm hopeful with nutriceuticals we will be able to level out her body and she will not have any further issues. When I called to inform them I was transferring to another vet clinic this vet wanted to talk to me. He again tried to tell me what was done to both Jett and Callie was correct. Thankfully I had had my information from credible sources to back me up. And when he heard my information and sources, he all of a sudden decided it was ok to let me out of our health care plan I had taken out 6 months ago. Without the early cancellation fee I might add. :thumbsup:

I'm not anti vet or anti traditional medicine at all. There is a time and place for prescription drugs. But in human medicine, we have specialists. And up until recently (and still it's really only available in larger cities), vets had to be the cardiologist, the dentist, the ophthalmologist, the orthopedic surgeon, the dermatologist, etc... And to make matters worse, they have to know everything about dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, horses, etc... Then within all those different species, each breed presents it's own unique special needs and genetic health issues. So I'm really not placing blame on vets for not being able to truly know everything. It's not humanly possible imho. But I do blame those vets that have the arrogant nature that no one dare question them. And if a vet is ever again that way I will not hesitate to stand my ground and seek a 2nd opinion. And I think I'm past the point of letting that bother me...finally! :innocent:
 

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Grear thread, Pam and responses. i'm very lucky with my vet but i also come in "armed" with great info and questions I've learned here. Let us forget the importance of pre-op bloodwork and asking that non-electric heating pads are used after surgey -also lessons we've learned here.


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Great post! :thumbsup:

It's so important to be an active participant in your pet's health...just like you would be with your own or your child's. So important.

I'm glad I've found a clinic where 2 of the vets are wonderful and neither give me any problems when I ask for things to be done a certain way - like staying with Grace until she was sedated for surgery, or not taking them back for certain things, or allowing me to see the vial the injection will be drawn from...

I'm happy with our current vet and they seem to like me asking so many questions. They also know me and my dogs - the whole staff. Not sure that's good :w00t: but I like it :)

One thing I'd add to this list:

When they do take your pet into the back, make sure to ask them what medications they are going to be giving your fluff, and what they are for. I never thought I had to worry about this with our old vet, but then Grace ended up being over medicated and with things that made no sense to me with the diagnosis' they were giving her. So always communicate with them and make sure they tell you exactly what they are giving your dog and why.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Pam, I've been thinking of posting something like this too. I'm shocked and saddend by several recent events. Just be forewarned...if you take a proactive role in your fluffs healthcare, ask questions, seek alternative options, 2nd opinions, etc... you will be labeled a 'special client'. So get some thicker skin now. I'm still working on my thicker skin. :blush: And what finally helped was when I spoke to the vet we had been seeing previously whose vet tech did something so wrong in how she handled Jett, who had a sudden behavior change that went from loving all people (strangers) and dogs to being very fearful. His was related to vision impairment. (That seems to have actually improved! But that's another story and a thread of it's own.) And they were very much aware of this. And this tech had taken some behavioral courses and was considered their 'behavior expert'. However she had not taken any continuing ed courses in over 10 years and was really not using what she had learned. When I told this vet about it, he immediately defended the tech telling me what she did was absolutely correct. Which told me he has had zilch education in animal behavior. (Most vets don't since very few vet schools have an Animal Behavior Science Dept.) The last straw was when another vet in the practice gave Callie the absolute worst antibiotic and unneccesary pain meds for her breed and her size. She is now dealing with symptoms of antibiotic induced leaky gut. But I'm hopeful with nutriceuticals we will be able to level out her body and she will not have any further issues. When I called to inform them I was transferring to another vet clinic this vet wanted to talk to me. He again tried to tell me what was done to both Jett and Callie was correct. Thankfully I had had my information from credible sources to back me up. And when he heard my information and sources, he all of a sudden decided it was ok to let me out of our health care plan I had taken out 6 months ago. Without the early cancellation fee I might add. :thumbsup:

I'm not anti vet or anti traditional medicine at all. There is a time and place for prescription drugs. But in human medicine, we have specialists. And up until recently (and still it's really only available in larger cities), vets had to be the cardiologist, the dentist, the ophthalmologist, the orthopedic surgeon, the dermatologist, etc... And to make matters worse, they have to know everything about dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, horses, etc... Then within all those different species, each breed presents it's own unique special needs and genetic health issues. So I'm really not placing blame on vets for not being able to truly know everything. It's not humanly possible imho. But I do blame those vets that have the arrogant nature that no one dare question them. And if a vet is ever again that way I will not hesitate to stand my ground and seek a 2nd opinion. And I think I'm past the point of letting that bother me...finally! :innocent:
Crystal, I think that we are already "special clients" because we chose Maltese as our breed. This isn't a breed for novices, and we have to be proactive and gain all the knowledge we can. In all seriousness, I have learned more on SM about some issues re: maltese health than some vets know. Once when I had to take Lola to the e-vet in the middle of the night for unabated seizures, I ended up giving a little education to him on GME. He was shocked at what I knew about GME and my dog. Good thing he was young and cute!
Grear thread, Pam and responses. i'm very lucky with my vet but i also come in "armed" with great info and questions I've learned here. Let us forget the importance of pre-op bloodwork and asking that non-electric heating pads are used after surgey -also lessons we've learned here.

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I love my vet too, and have learned a lot from them and the way they handle their practice. Good reminder about the heating pads ( I did ask my vet about that at the last dental) and pre op labs of course are mandatory for all surgeries. We can keep adding to this list at we go. Good read for newbies.
 

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Pam, I've been thinking of posting something like this too. I'm shocked and saddend by several recent events. Just be forewarned...if you take a proactive role in your fluffs healthcare, ask questions, seek alternative options, 2nd opinions, etc... you will be labeled a 'special client'. So get some thicker skin now. I'm still working on my thicker skin. :blush: And what finally helped was when I spoke to the vet we had been seeing previously whose vet tech did something so wrong in how she handled Jett, who had a sudden behavior change that went from loving all people (strangers) and dogs to being very fearful. His was related to vision impairment. (That seems to have actually improved! But that's another story and a thread of it's own.) And they were very much aware of this. And this tech had taken some behavioral courses and was considered their 'behavior expert'. However she had not taken any continuing ed courses in over 10 years and was really not using what she had learned. When I told this vet about it, he immediately defended the tech telling me what she did was absolutely correct. Which told me he has had zilch education in animal behavior. (Most vets don't since very few vet schools have an Animal Behavior Science Dept.) The last straw was when another vet in the practice gave Callie the absolute worst antibiotic and unneccesary pain meds for her breed and her size. She is now dealing with symptoms of antibiotic induced leaky gut. But I'm hopeful with nutriceuticals we will be able to level out her body and she will not have any further issues. When I called to inform them I was transferring to another vet clinic this vet wanted to talk to me. He again tried to tell me what was done to both Jett and Callie was correct. Thankfully I had had my information from credible sources to back me up. And when he heard my information and sources, he all of a sudden decided it was ok to let me out of our health care plan I had taken out 6 months ago. Without the early cancellation fee I might add. :thumbsup:

I'm not anti vet or anti traditional medicine at all. There is a time and place for prescription drugs. But in human medicine, we have specialists. And up until recently (and still it's really only available in larger cities), vets had to be the cardiologist, the dentist, the ophthalmologist, the orthopedic surgeon, the dermatologist, etc... And to make matters worse, they have to know everything about dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, horses, etc... Then within all those different species, each breed presents it's own unique special needs and genetic health issues. So I'm really not placing blame on vets for not being able to truly know everything. It's not humanly possible imho. But I do blame those vets that have the arrogant nature that no one dare question them. And if a vet is ever again that way I will not hesitate to stand my ground and seek a 2nd opinion. And I think I'm past the point of letting that bother me...finally! :innocent:
So true, you need to have a thick skin! I have 2 vets for Khloee, and both know us by now. Meaning, they know not to schedule an appointment right after mine because I take much longer than the norm; always a list of questions in my hand! I leave no rock unturned :innocent:

I would rather be the bad guy or nuisance if that means Khloee gets the best care avaialable. Remember, no one is going to care as much as us about our little ones, so we need to speak up :thumbsup:
 

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Pam -- thanks for putting this together. Excellent Sticky!!!

And, I agree that most everyone here on SM is probably already a "special client". I've learned so much here and have shared a lot of Maltese specific education with my Vet. For example, the owner of the practice (not a vet himself) had never heard of a TF Rabies vaccine until I specifically asked for it. But he was more than happy to contact the manufacturer and have it overnighted for my girls' shots.

I was not upset that he didn't know about it (my Vet knew) -- I was just happy that he didn't hassle me and was more than willing to order it for me. :)

They're willing to work with me and know that I have research to backup my special requests. And they know that I have my girls' best interests at heart. I am their advocate.

My Vet is not staffed 24/7 and I know that if I have to leave a fluff overnight, I will have to rush them to the ER Clinic. My Vet's office faxes or emails my fluff's records to the ER Clinic if they have seen the fluff and then had me go to the ER for overnight/weekend care. If they haven't seem the fluff, then I take my record book with me to the ER clinic so that they have the fluff's records to refer to.

And my Vet is happy to work with Specialists. They realize that they are more of a GP (in human terms) and that we need to see Specialists for various other things. For example, for Secret's eyes or for the allergies that Oliver (the foster) had. And they work together with the Specialist. For example, with Secret's eyes, the Opthamologist wanted me to have a full thyroid panel run just to rule out a thyroid issue which can use the problems she has. My Vet was more than happy to accommodate me with this. They called an talked to the Allergy Specialist before I took Oliver to see the Specialist.

These are the extra things that I look for in a vet. And most important is the fact that they are willing to listen to me, discuss treatments and keep me imformed. Having good communications with your Vet is, imho, the essence of good health care for our fluffs.
 

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Great post! I like to think I'm one of the lucky ones. I believe I have a great vet. His dad was a vet also and my mom worked for him and now his son is carrying on the practice.
 

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Great post, Pam - thanks for sharing this!

Just be forewarned...if you take a proactive role in your fluffs healthcare, ask questions, seek alternative options, 2nd opinions, etc... you will be labeled a 'special client'. So get some thicker skin now. I'm still working on my thicker skin. :blush:
Totally agree on this, Crystal. I'm sure I have been labeled a "special client" (or they may have used some other, not as nice, words LOL) at all the vet clinics I have seen in the past. I learned some very difficult lessons with my cat who passed away a couple of years ago - I didn't know as much back then and completely BLINDLY trusted whatever the vets said/did. The result was numerous pointless procedures/medications, no diagnosis and a pet who suffered immensely unnecessarily :( I will never just blindly go with what a vet tells me. I know that makes me really annoying to vets but you know what? I'd rather be annoying and piss people off rather than regret not saying something down the road. At least I know I did everything I could to act as my pet's advocate. I really DREAD having to search for a new vet - but with all the moving around I've been doing last few years, I've had to do this a lot. I had finally found a wonderful vet in Charlotte who "got me" and was great to work with on Emma's puppy shots, etc - but then I had to move again and right before I need to have Emma spayed. Great timing, huh? :w00t:
 

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Terrific post. I always research where they went to school too. There are some great vet schools out there and then there are the average ones.
 
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