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Choosing a veterinarian can be the most important decision in your pets care. You’re looking for someone to meet your needs and those of your pet, a doctor who has people and animal skills.
The worst time to find a vet is when you need one, so interview and choose your veterinarian before you have an emergency and need one.
Veterinarians often work with a team of professionals, including technicians and qualified support staff.
So you’ll want to test the entire vet team’s competence and caring.
You should consider the hospital’s location and costs when deciding.
If you have to drive a few extra miles or pay more it may be worth it to get the care you want for your pet.
Start with a friend, neighbor, animal shelter worker, dog trainer, groomer, boarding kennel employee or pet sitter when choosing a veterinarian.
If you go to an office that has several veterinarians, make appointments with the same doctor each visit so he becomes familiar with your dog.
11 Things to know about choosing a veterianarian
What to look for in a veterinary practice
- Is the clinic clean, comfortable and well-organized?
- Are appointments required?
- How many veterinarians are in the practice?
- Are there technicians or other professional staff members?
- Are dogs and cat cages in separate areas?
- Is the staff caring, calm, competent and courteous, and do they communicate?
- Do the veterinarians have special interests such as geriatrics or behavior?
- Which emergency services are available?
- Are X-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, EKG, endoscopy and other diagnostics done in-house or referred to a specialist?
- Location and parking convenient?
- Do expenses fit your budget and are discounts for senior citizens or multi-pet households available?
How to be a good client
Good client manners encourage a happy relationship with your vet.
- Visit your vet for preventive visits, not just when your pet becomes ill.
- Learn what’s normal for your pet, so you recognize the first signs of illness. If a pet’s not well, don’t wait until she’s sick before you call your vet. It’s frustrating for a vet, and heartbreaking for owners, to have an animal die of illness if professional care had begun sooner.
- Schedule appointments and be on time. Lateness is rude and wreaks havoc with the office’s timing.
- For your pet’s safety and that of other clients and pets, bring your cat to the veterinary office in a carrier.
- Don’t disturb your veterinarian during non-working hours for matters that can wait and don’t expect your veterinarian to diagnose a pet’s problem over the telephone
- In the event of an emergency, call ahead to make sure that the veterinarian’s available. She will have to work your pet into the regular schedule, so you may need to wait. Get a referral to an emergency vet clinic if the Doctor isn’t available when you to the office.
You’ll want to come to the visits prepared.
Don’t be reluctant to ask for information on your dog and any potential problems.
Prepare for the Veterinarian Visit:
Be prepared for your visit to the veterinarian. This can make a difference in your pets first visit.
- You should make a list of foods and treats you are feeding your pets, along with the quantities you are feeding. Telling your veterinarian you’re feeding a handful doesn’t tell him much, measure if you’re uncertain.
- Make a note of any symptoms your pet may have. List any medications. A few days before pay attention to your pets drinking, appetite, and energy levels.
- Call ahead to ask if you need to bring in a stool sample for examination of intestinal parasites.
- If you have inoculation records from your earlier vet.
- Ask for the latest flea and tick prevention and control programs.
- Heartworm tests records and asks for the preventives.
- Ask questions on Parvo Virus and symptoms.
- Check with the vet on any illnesses common to your breed.
- Ask for suggestions on minor injuries and how to treat them.
- Let them recommend a good antiseptic cream.
Liquid – Use a syringe (without the needle) to give liquid medication.
It is best to insert the syringe with the dog’s mouth closed behind his canine teeth to avoid stabbing the back of the dog’s throat. Inject the medication.
Pills – Position the dog sitting, tilt the dogs head back, lift the lips away from his teeth and hold his upper jaw by the gums behind his canine teeth and push on his lower jaw with your other hand to open the mouth.
Place the pill in the back of his throat, close his mouth and keep it shut.
Stroke his throat until swallowed.
If you have a dog not used to taking medication, and he is too difficult to handle, try crushing the pill or opening capsules and mixing with peanut butter or baby food. Mix it up and stick it on the roof of the dog’s mouth.
As the dog licks the peanut butter off the roof of his mouth, it will melt and he will swallow the medication.
Signs of Distress
A dog may show signs of distress. You want to be familiar with the most common signs of distress because they show your dog could have a problem that may need immediate attention.
This is a general list below that shows signs of distress and the problems they may show. These same signs could show problems other than those listed so consult your veterinarian.
- Dog choking, gagging, drooling or pawing at the mouth.
- Possible foreign item stuck in the throat or mouth.
- Hot ears. Hot to the touch.
- Fever, but a dog could have a fever and not have hot ears.
- Straining, but not having a bowel movement.
- Constipation or obstruction of the bowels or diarrhea.
- Dog cries, crouches or tenses, trembles, heavy breathing.
- Poison, bloat, pain from swallowing sharp object can cause intense abdominal pain.
- Convulsions, thrashing on the floor, glassy-eyed, foaming, rigid.
- Epilepsy or poison, hypoglycemia.
- Nervous panting and pacing.
- Pain or discomfort, watch carefully.
- Squatting, but not urinating or just dribbling.
- Bladder or kidney infection.
- Scooting across the floor on the rear.
- Possible blocked anal glands or caked stool in the hair around the rectum.
- Skin inside of ears is bright pink instead of pale. Odor from ears or constant scratching of ears.
- Ear infection or ear mites.
- Pal mucus membranes, cold heavy breathing, and extremities.
Spaying and Neutering your Dog
If you do not plan on breeding your dog, consider spaying or neutering.
By spaying your female dog you are:
- Removing the chance of accidental breeding.
- Eliminating two three-week-long sessions per year of her being in season.
- Eliminating the problem of vaginal discharge during her season.
- Preventing false pregnancies and infections of the uterus.
- Reducing the chance of mammary tumors.
- Eliminating nuisance male dogs in the neighborhood congregating at your home during the season.
By neutering your male dog you are:
- Removing the chance of his siring a litter of puppies.
- Eliminating the wish to roam from home if a female dog is in season in the neighborhood.
- Eliminating the need to mark his territory with urine if he scents a female dog in season.
- Decreasing, sometimes, aggressive behavior towards other male dogs.
For more information on spaying/neutering, check with your veterinarian.
A veterinarian can tell you the best age for these procedures for your breed.
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- Dog’s normal breathing rate – 15 to 20 per minute.
- Dog’s normal heartbeat – 100 to 150 beats per minute. Take pulse under the chest or under rear leg where it joins the body.
- Dog’s normal temperature – 101 to 102 degrees.
Use a thermometer especially for dogs to take your pet’s temperature. Hold the thermometer while taking the dog’s temperature.
If using a rectal thermometer, be careful, the rectal muscles can pull the thermometer into the dog’s body, don’t let go.
- The color of mucous membranes (includes the gums, tongue, inside of eyelids) should be a nice healthy pink. Memorize the color of your dog’s membranes when he is well (color varies from dog to dog), so you will know when there’s a change in the color.
I hope this information will help you understand your dog better.
Please realize this information given is general (the problems which are shown as reasons for signs of distress) and offered only as an aid for you to recognize that your dog has a health condition that warrants watching.
Always follow your veterinarian’s advice for your dog.