Consumer Guide to Veterinary Medicine
When looking for a veterinarian, the following tips may help.
Ask for a tour of the hospital. A tour would not be complete unless the treatment areas, the surgical areas and the kennel areas are allowed to be viewed or visited. It is reasonable for a tour to be scheduled during a time convenient for the hospital. It is reasonable to ask for a tour before you become a client of the hospital. The hospital should be clean and odor free. At Paw Prints Animal Hospital, brief tours are welcome at any time, unless we are busy with patients and surgery.
How are medical records kept? Are they legible? Do they include all the recommended information? Among other things they should include results of physical exams, laboratory results, interpretation of radiographs, doses and how medications are to be given.
What is the protocol for vaccinations? Which vaccines does your pet need? Does the vet require an exam before vaccinations? It is not a good idea to vaccinate pets without considering their age, prior vaccines, current housing/care and exposure to disease, preexisting illnesses, and current physical findings. Vaccines can cause serious illness and should be used judiciously. At Paw Prints, we take into account your pet’s relative risk, lifestyle choices, and overall general health when deciding which vaccines, if any, that your pet needs.
How are appointments scheduled? Typically there will be different time allowances for new clients/pets, ill or injured pets, well pets, and other various reasons for appointments. Times may range from 10 min to 60 min. You have a right to know how much time you can expect from the veterinarian. At Paw Prints, we typically schedule 30-minute appointments for most visits.
If time is an issue to you, you may also want to enquire what the typical wait is to see the veterinarian. The more time you need to wait, the more nervous and stressed your pet (and you) may become. Because of our scheduling, waits at Paw Prints are minimal.
How are emergencies handled? Some veterinarians share emergencies with other veterinary clinics, some refer to emergency facilities, some are staffed 24/7, and yet others are available via pager. All are acceptable, as long as care is provided after hours. At Paw Prints, the doctor is available via pager for our clients only. A local emergency clinic (on Rt. 85 in Montville, near the dinosaur) serves as our back-up in case the doctor is out of town. Emergency information is available on our answering machine.
Is a doctor in the building overnight with your pet? In most cases, it is extremely expensive to have a doctor in the building overnight. In most hospitals, once the office is closed, the staff goes home. What happens to your pet if it requires hospitalization overnight?
At Paw Prints Animal Hospital, we do our best to make sure all pets go home in a timely manner. All surgical cases are released the same day so that they may be more relaxed at home in their own environment. Many sick patients can be treated on an outpatient basis.
But what if your pet needs to stay? If your pet needs round the clock treatments or fluids and must stay in the hospital, the doctor visits multiple times per night to check on your pet and administer medications. If your pet’s condition is such that it warrants continuous observation, we may elect to send your pet to the emergency clinic overnight (seizures, shock, bloat). On rare occasions, the doctor may spend the night in the clinic to be with your pet.
As a single-doctor practice, having an emergency clinic available for overnight care of critical cases allows the doctor to get some rest and be fresh for the next day’s appointments. In multiple-doctor practices, many times the doctor on overnight duty goes home in the morning.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s overnight care, please feel free to ask before your pet is admitted.