Choosing Your Veterinarian

The following article appeared in the 1/13/07 edition of the North County Times.

PET PERSPECTIVE: Your veterinarian should be your pet’s second-best friend.

By: GIGI BACON THEBERGE – For the North County Times

As a pet parent, there are few relationships as valuable as the one you will have with a trusted veterinarian, yet many of us choose our veterinarian based solely on location. And while convenience is certainly valuable, there are other elements to consider.

Dr. Deborah Harvazinksi, president of the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association and a relief veterinarian who practices throughout San Diego County says good veterinary care should be a priority for pet parents.

“I think many people look at pet health simply as a consumer service, instead of a medical service, like ‘Should I get my car looked at by A or B?’ Instead, I believe veterinarians should be considered as the medical professionals they are.” Harvazinski continues, “Would you go to the closest doctor for your health care or would you go to the group you have the most confidence in?”

Advising that a veterinarian can be your pet’s “second-best friend,” The Humane Society of the Unites States recognizes the importance of the pet parent-veterinarian relationship and counsels, “The worst time to look for a veterinarian is when you really need one, so plan ahead and choose wisely.”

With this in mind, here are a few tips to help you find the right veterinarian.

— Start by seeking recommendations from people who share a like-minded approach to pet care. Friends, neighbors, animal trainers, groomers and other animal care professionals can all be good sources. Groups like the San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association can also provide helpful referrals.

— Next, interview your potential veterinarian. Ask questions that are important to you, like how many veterinarians are in the practice? What accommodations are made for emergencies? Ask about fees, methods of payment and insurance. Tour the facility, including surgery and boarding areas. Are these areas clean and orderly? Is the staff knowledgeable, helpful and friendly?

— If you like what you see, schedule a wellness exam for your pet. Here you’ll be able to evaluate how the veterinarian interacts with your pet, have an opportunity to ask more questions and better determine if the veterinarian’s interpersonal style is a good match for you.

When it comes to veterinary costs, Dr. Harvazinski says having a personal relationship and mutual respect between client and veterinarian can be really beneficial. “I’ve had strong relationships with clients at both ends of the financial spectrum,” she says. “Some people have more resources than others. A veterinarian should no more expect a client to go broke than the client expect the vet to go broke.”

She says pet parents will be best served when they view their veterinarians as allies. “I have many clients that I know love their animals and want to do the right thing for them. I enjoy seeing these people and working with them to solve their pet health issues. I am willing to work within their financial limits when possible.”

However, she continues, “I don’t want to see people who treat me as an adversary. I don’t look forward to seeing people who have a pet they view as replaceable for ‘less than the fee to fix their problem.’ I love animals and want to treat each one as if they were my own. I want each to be appreciated for the loving soul that they are.”

The Humane Society also says pet parents can be better veterinary clients by learning what is normal for their pets so they can recognize the first signs of illness and seek help. And perhaps most important, be sure to visit your veterinarian regularly for preventative care.

Rolling Hills Pet Hospital agrees with Dr Harvanzinski and invites pet owners to come down and meet our staff and tour our facility. We are the largest, most modern and comfortable pet facility in the South Bay!