Choosing the Right Veterinarian

Coming Soon Department Excerpt

By Chuck Johnson, Versatile Dog Columnist

One of the most, if not the most, important partner and team member with you and your hunting dog is your veterinarian. Your dog is a professional athlete. In a typical hunting day of four or five hours in the field, if you walk five miles, your dog will cover three to four times that distance. On a hunting trip of four or five days, your dog must be in great shape because his body is going to take a lot of stress.

It’s important to select a vet who understands the difference in medical care between a housedog and a hunting dog. There are a number of advanced specialties in veterinary medicine. A veterinary specialist is one who has successfully completed the process of education and training in the particular specialty and is board certified. One of the newest specialties is Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation by the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Fort Collins, Colorado. The program was developed in 2010 to meet the unique needs of athletic and working animals and all animals in need of rehabilitation. Obviously, there won’t be such trained specialists in every part of the country, but if you can find one near you, great. The object is to locate a vet who at the very least is well-versed, in sports medicine for dogs.

The first step, of course, is to narrow down the vets in your area who you might want to consider. Ask your hunting dog-owning friends who they go to and how happy they are with the service. Many clinics have a website that gives a description of their practice and has profiles of the vets and their staff.

Once you have selected one or two vets who you believe might have the experience and facilities that you want, the next step is to call and set up an appointment to take a tour of the facilities and meet the vet and his or her staff. At the meeting, explain the type of dog or dogs you own, the type of hunting you do with your dog, and any medical problems your dog might have. Ask to meet the other vets and ask for a tour of the facilities.

Here are the things I’m looking for and the questions I’m going to ask during my visit.

  1. I want a vet whose practice deals with a number of sporting dogs. I am hoping that the vet, or another vet in the practice, is certified in internal medicine. Other specialties such oncology, orthopedic surgery, radiology and radiation oncology, as well as emergency and critical care and dental care are also important. I expect to see a clean, orderly facility.
  2. I prefer a practice that has more than one veterinarian. In the case of a single practice, if your vet is on vacation or sick, they should have another vet that you can call. The problem is that another vet doesn’t know your dog or his medical history. It’s better to have multiple vets in the same practice where your dog’s medical history is stored.

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