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Norwich Bulletin - 3/16/2008

Selecting Your Veterinarian

You have made the important decision about getting a pet, and you are buying all the toys, bed, premium pet food and getting the house and yard ready for the arrival of your new ďfamily memberĒ. Donít forget the all important selection of a veterinarian if you do not already have a trusted vet. The yellow pages have many veterinarians listed but which one to select?

You can start by asking other clients their experience with their vet. Rescue groups are usually glad to share their opinions of their veterinarian and such groups can be found by going to For those without a computer, remember all libraries are hooked up to the internet and the librarian will be glad to help you. Petfinder has rescue groups for cats, dogs, small and furry, reptiles, birds, horses and even farm animals.

Then call or visit several veterinary clinics and ask for their list of charges for everything from office visits, vaccinations, spay/neuter, overnight hospitalization to blood tests and the like.

Do they do major surgical procedures? Can they handle serious situations such as if the pet is injured by a vehicle? How many veterinarians are there in the practice? What are their office hours? Do they allow walk-ins? Emergency services for when your pet becomes seriously ill in the middle of the night? Is the place clean, and staff helpful?

Ask to see the rooms and kennels where the animals are boarded. Use your nose! It should pass the sniff test. Donít be shy about asking to see the operating room, the equipment. You may not know what you are looking at, but the rooms and equipment should be clean and reasonably up to date.

A big thing for me is the attitude the vets have toward you. Are they willing to listen to you talk about your petís symptoms and do they use words you can actually understand? Are they quick to condemn your animal companion to a specific terminal disease immediately, or are they willing to go a little slower and really check out the different possibilities?

You should also be aware that there is pet insurance available, especially for dogs and cats, and you may want to investigate such insurance. Certainly charges vary widely, especially for spaying and neutering. There can be several hundred dollars difference between clinics.

Price may be a real concern for you, so please ask if they give senior discounts, or multiple-pet discounts. Will they work out a payment plan if a procedure to save your pet is very costly? There are always lower cost animal hospitals and that does not mean the vets are not as good as the over-prices vets.

It means there are some very dedicated veterinarians that are striving to help people. Most of the time, the vetís office that is affiliated with your Humane Society will offer lower cost vet care Ė here in Connecticut there is Fox Memorial Clinic, which is connected to the building of the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington, Connecticut.

Just as with your own personal doctor, you need to feel comfortable with your veterinarian. You are paying for an office visit, so asking questions is a good way to learn more about caring for your vet, especially as your pet ages. Most veterinarians are glad to take an extra minute or two to impart knowledge.

Knowing the signs of an illness starting in your pet is critical, and your veterinarian can educate you as to what to look for. Knowing that your veterinarian is someone competent, kind and available is essential to the health and long life of your pet and your peace of mind.

I know if I did not have my own wonderful vets at Colchester Veterinary Hospital, it would be very hard for me. I trust and believe in my vets and know they are there for me and my special friends.

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