I’m going to take us a little off what we have normally been doing today. I do want this to be a comprehensive, all-inclusive, uber-helpful blog. But I have also preached day in and day out that I want this to be different than a PetMD or Wikipedia site. (Nothing against those sites though)
I am not a giant company with a different writer every day pumping out blog posts and promoting. I am a single person, who loves this because I love animals.
So while I will be doing an article about questions you should ask before choosing a vet, and signs of a good vet, I wanted to tell you a WHY story. I am going to be sharing THREE, yes three, personal stories from my own animals that explain why choosing the right vets are so crucial. I hope you guys get some real value out of this. Fair warning, I decided against some witty lines about each story. Because while I am quite the jovial person, I don’t want my babies stories to be taken lightly. So buckle up buttercup. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself).
Hopefully, anyone reading this knows who Phoebe is. Her story is here, she is also the face plastered all over my blog. As you can tell she is quite a happy, healthy cat. But she hasn’t always been that way.
If you recall from her story, I mentioned I found her extremely sick. My grandfather had taken her to a vet that was not our family vet but had her medical records. (P.S. this vet also told him that Phoebe was a boy if you want any foreshadowing).
I remember calling that vet the minute they opened to see if I could bring my new cat in there for a check-up. She hadn’t had a full evaluation just a quick scan to see if she was a boy or a girl. They reluctantly allowed me to schedule a visit that day.
And just so you don’t have to go back and read through everything, I’ll catch you up a little bit. Phoebe had horrible digestions issues, upper respiratory infection, and no meow before I brought her there. It was obvious she was sick from being outside.
The Actual Vet Visit
So I walk into the vet, take a seat in the room, and let the kitten out of the carrier. My family has always let our pets roam in the vet to help them feel more comfortable so this was just second nature to me. When the nurse walked in, she seemed okay with it. I put Phoebe on the evaluation table and let her take a look.
They looked at her and took some samples, but basically told me I may be easier to put her down, especially if any of those came back with diseases. Knowing very little about cats at the time, I was heartbroken. They also said it was going to be expensive if I did not want to put her down.
Long story short, from my perspective, it sounded like they wanted to take the easy way out and put a stray cat down than run a bunch of tests. Obviously, I did not listen to them. I made them run the tests, and treat the cat. She was in such good spirits, no way could she go from purring to death so quickly. Fortunately for us, she came back negative for the diseases and just needed proper diet and medicine for her ear mites, fleas, and upper respiratory infection.
When I started getting into blogging, I began researching the diseases they mentioned. Nearly all of these diseases are either treatable, or the animal can live a happy healthy life with them. That infuriated me. Veterinarians are supposed to be the person you look to when you are not well researched on a topic. How many strays have they put down because the owners were not informed of the impact of these diseases?! It still makes me sick.
I have since found an excellent vet to take my babies to for check-ups and for them to tell me when I am over-reacting to a bump (one time it was Phoebe’s nipple that I was convinced was cancer). But that’s what I realized going to them, and my parent’s vet, good vets are noticeably different. A good vet will tell you when you’re over-reacting, and rather than brush you off, INFORM you. Educate you on what is happening with your pet, your fur-babies, however, you describe your animal.
So I guess the moral of Phoebe’s story, it is important to find a good vet so you are able to make informed decisions about your pet’s health and future.
Onto Penny’s Vet Story. And don’t worry, this is not the same one. Hopefully, you all know who Penny is, she is my parent’s cat, and actually part of the reason we started to become a cat family. Her story can be found here.
In order to tell her story without making you go read all about her (though you should), I will give you some high-level points about her. She was a feral cat. She is now an indoor/outdoor cat that we keep inside during the evenings and early mornings. After that, she comes and goes as she pleases, very similar to that of a dog. One last call out, she was terrified of humans before us, and is still not extremely trusting of humans outside our family.
Okay, so you’re up to speed enough on Penny. Like I said up there, she is normally an indoor/outdoor cat that we keep inside in the evenings. Usually, around dusk we stop letting her go outside to protect her from predators. She always wants to go out to be said predator, but my parent’s as normally very good about ensuring she stays inside, and that she is inside before going to sleep.
Well one night, a door was slightly left open when everyone went to be. Penny, like the crazy kitten she is, escaped. Of course, being the wonderful kitten she is, she returned before morning. But when she returned she seemed scared, frightened. My parent’s at the time thought nothing of it besides a bad dream. A few days later we found out she had been injured.
She had a wound on her shoulder, which we assumed was from a fight with a raccoon, but that’s all speculation and not really the point of the story. The point was, she was hurt and needed to go to the vet. I can’t seem to remember why, but my parents could not get her into our family vet so they decided to take her elsewhere to have her looked at.
Penny’s Vet Visit
The vet determined she needed stitches. My mom was heartbroken. She explained to this vet that Penny was an indoor/outdoor cat and a wild one at that. She asked how she was going to be able to keep Penny from licking her wound or biting at her stitches.
The vet responded, you have to no matter what. He offered to keep her for a few days to ensure the wounds would heal properly. At first, my mom was so relieved to have a vet looking after her. But when she asked how he would make sure she didn’t lick her wounds, she was horrified. The vet said he would ‘hog-tie’ her legs so she couldn’t move at night. And release her for a few hours a day, supervised.
TALK ABOUT ANIMAL CRUELTY! My mother was furious. I want to say she had a few words with him, but I can’t remember and don’t want to tell you incorrectly. All I do know was that in no way were we letting our animals stay the night there, EVER!
The vet did not really seem to care whether we took the cat or left her, just advised up to get a cone. Again, did he not listen to a thing my parents said? This cat loved to run outside with the dogs in our yard. The thought of keeping her trapped inside with no outside privileges for two weeks sounded horrible. And a cone? She would be miserable!
This place did not recommend anything to my family besides a cone to keep her wound safe. We, as a family, came up with the idea of a baby shirt so she couldn’t lick the wound, but still had free range to be the cat/dog that she is.
Moral of Penny’s story, it is crucial to pick a great vet because you never know what they will do after hours to “keep the animal safe”. (It still boils my blood. I hope this vet is reading this someday humiliated that he said those words, but I digress). You want to make sure you have a vet that listens to you about your animal and takes that into consideration when providing treatment and advice. A cone may not work for all cats and dogs. Providing additional options helps keep the animal less stressed out, and the family more at ease.
Okay, you’ve heard the horrors of bad vets. But you also should know what happens when you find an amazing veterinarian. So here comes Jake’s vet stories. Again, I have mentioned Jake, he was my first dog, and his story can be found here. At a fairly early age, we discovered Jake had diabetes from our vet.
Want to take a guess at what this vet’s approach to the situation was? He educated my family. He calmed us down and let us know what to expect with Jake (blindness and varied moods based on insulin levels). He taught us how to give the insulin shot, how to best help him, everything.
He did not give up on our family member because it was going to take a little more work. I firmly believe that because we were so educated on the matter was why he lived another 8? Or so years!
That same veterinarian hospital was there when at the end of Jake’s life too. You could tell they really cared about the animals and were hurting similarly to the family members when it was time to say goodbye. It was not just another routine thing they had to do. Every member of that hospital was genuine and cared.
It didn’t make the process of saying goodbye any easier at the time, but knowing the level of kindness that was radiating from that place made it easier as time went on.
Man! Even the good vet story ended sadly. Sorry tribe!
But the main point that I really wanted to make was the differences between a good vet and a bad vet. A good vet will help position the animal owner in a way to help them be the best caretakers possible, similar to me just with a legal degree and more animal-based education. (Minor stuff really…kidding of course).
If you’re still struggling to see the value behind a good vet. Think of it in terms of a human doctor. What if you had a child, and went to horrible doctors that just brushed your child’s illness off. To some people, their pets are their children. You don’t want a doctor who brushes off any concerns you have with your children!
While a healthy pet usually only visits the vet on a yearly basis, it is still important to find the right one for you. You don’t want to realize you have been going to a vet that doesn’t care only when there is really something wrong with your pet. Vets should be there helping you and your fur-baby when things are happy and healthy, and when things are not. That is really what makes a great vet.
So readers, in your own opinions, what makes a great vet or a great vet experience for you?!?!
Tell me below!