I am fortunate to have a wonderful veterinarian. Part of the wonderful – ness is the freedom I feel to ask questions about his diagnosis and treatment approach. But over the years I have found a few red flags that make me sit up, take notice, and possibly rethink (or possibly just run as fast as I, with my short-legged bulldog friend, can) .
A less than clear reason that I would add to the points below is a lack of sensitivity. Sometimes it is hard to put your finger on it. Sometimes it is more egregious. A response to your dog’s malady on the order of “He’s doomed. No hope, just pickle him and move on” would clearly qualify as such. But I have also had a vet just shrug when breaking some very bad news to me and mine. After picking my jaw up from off the ground, I began the quest for another vet.
Clear Indicators A Change is Needed
Any of the following would cause me concern:
- A paternalistic attitude whereby options aren’t presented for discussion but instead you are told what you must or should do.
- If your dog’s condition is not getting any better or is worsening, if your vet cannot arrive at a diagnosis , if a procedure is recommended that seems complicated and your vet has not had extensive experience performing and he does not recommend a specialist, it is probably time to seek another vet.
- A recommendation of a protocol that you know is outdated. Probably the best example I can think of concerns vaccines. Laws relating to required vaccinations and the duration of protection afforded by many vaccines have changed drastically. If my vet recommended a yearly rabies vaccine I would be seriously concerned, as these laws and recommendations changed years ago.
- A missed diagnosis or botched procedure. Accidents do happen of course but if either of these scenarios occurs it should be explained and thoroughly discussed. And if the account given does not fully restore your faith in your vet, it may be time to look elsewhere.
- Follow your gut! If you are not 100% comfortable, for whatever reason, I would begin looking around, and asking fellow dog owners for recommendations.
Departing Gracefully and On Good Terms
Unless you live in a very small community and you cross paths with your vet socially, the chances are pretty good that you will never need to offer an explanation. Simply calling the office and asking for your dog’s records to be faxed to the new vet is probably all that is needed. If asked why, my reply has been that the new vet has more convenient hours or location.