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Choosing a Veterinarian

by Robert K. Cartin, D.M.V.
Saturday Aug 31, 2013

For those of us who are animal lovers, choosing a veterinarian and a veterinary hospital is as important as choosing our own doctor - perhaps more similar to choosing a pediatrician for your child. And the time to find the "purr-fect" doctor for your four legged or feathered family member is not when the need is urgent.

First, start by asking your friends and family members who are also pet lovers. Nothing beats a personal recommendation. Check the hospital's website for their location and hours. Is availability seven days a week (or evenings or early mornings) important to you?

Does the hospital treat your species of pet? (Many hospitals only treat dogs and cats but not birds, rabbits or other species). How many doctors practice at the hospital? The collaboration of a number of doctors is often beneficial in diagnosing and treating a patient, as well as providing a wide breadth of services and extended office hours. However, you never want to feel as if you and your pet are not getting personal service.

With a bit of time and effort, you should be able to find the right health care professional for your pet - someone who you are happy to call "your other family doctor."

Next, call the hospital. Is the person answering the phone warm, caring, empathetic and knowledgeable? Can you "hear" his or her smile over the phone? Tell the receptionist that you are choosing a veterinary hospital for your pet and ask that person to tell you something about the practice. Are appointments necessary? If payment plans are important to you, ask about them. How are emergencies handled? Are there doctors and staff members on duty at all times or are referrals made to a local emergency hospital?

Finally, make an unscheduled visit to the hospital (preferably without your pet) and set aside some time to watch how the staff members interact with each other and with other clients. What is their communication style? Does the staff seem welcoming, competent and courteous? Is the hospital modern, clean, comfortable and odor free?

You want to be completely comfortable with the care that your pet will receive in the future so ask for a tour of the entire hospital. If they are very busy, be willing to wait until someone is free to show you around. The employees should be proud of the facility and the work that they do. When making your overall evaluation, keep in mind that your first impression and your "gut feeling" are usually accurate.

With a bit of time and effort, you should be able to find the right health care professional for your pet - someone who you are happy to call "your other family doctor."


In [warmer areas of the country], temperatures can soar into the 90s as early as April. Such intense heat is not only dangerous for humans but for your pets as well. Even on mild, sunny days, with temperatures in the 70s, veterinarians will often see cases of heat stroke in dogs.


• Cars are potential death traps during the warmer months due to the fact that inside temperatures can quickly climb to more than 140° Fahrenheit, even on mild, sunny days. It's always best to leave your pet at home while running errands during sunny weather.

• If your pet lives out-of-doors, make sure there is adequate shelter for protection from the midday sun and heat. Outdoor kennels should be well-ventilated and there should always be a shaded area for the pet to get out of the sun. Be sure there is plenty of fresh drinking water available and the bowl should also be placed in a shaded area, so not to be heated by the day's sun.

• Exercise is important, but overexertion during warm weather commonly causes heat stress. Dogs don't sweat and depend on heat loss through evaporation from their mouth, nose and tongue. Brachycephalic breeds of dogs (i.e., those with "pushed in" noses, such as Bull Dogs and Pugs) have a particularly difficult time dealing with exercise and stress - even on relatively cool and sunny days. Avoid excessive exercise for all breeds on hot days. The ambient temperature may be ten to twenty degrees warmer near your pet's nose than your face. Try to get out in early morning and stay off of cement and black top; hot surface temperatures can burn the footpads.


Panting, staring or anxious expression; does not obey commands; warm, dry gums and skin and a high temperature (often above 110º); rapid heartbeat; possible vomiting.


Lower the body temperature quickly with cool water, either by immersion or by spraying thoroughly with a garden hose. Call your veterinarian immediately. Heat stroke can be fatal!

For more information on pet health care, pet owners can visit the American Animal Hospital Association website at healthypet.com or visit the Mission Animal and Bird Hospital website at missionanimal.com

Copyright Rage Monthly. For more articles from Rage visit www.ragemonthly.com


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