A vet is your pet’s second best friend in case of emergency (opinion)
Tribune Opinion Columnist
I get a lot of questions regarding veterinarian care, ranging from who I recommend to who to go to during after-hour emergencies. I hope the following information is of assistance.
A veterinarian is your pet’s second-best friend.
When choosing your veterinarian, you’re doing more than searching for a medical expert. You’re looking for someone to meet your needs and those of your pet — a doctor who has both people and animal skills.
The worst time to look for a vet is when you really need one, so plan ahead and choose wisely. This holds true especially for those of us who live in Lake Tahoe. Being on a mountain is beautiful, but has its down side when it comes to emergency veterinary care. There are 24/7 emergency facility’s in Carson, Reno and Sacramento. Obviously Carson is your best bet when time is of the essence.
Veterinarians often work with a team of professionals, including technicians and qualified support staff, so you’ll likely want to evaluate the entire vet team’s competence and care. You should also consider the hospital’s location and fees when making a decision. Driving a few extra miles or paying a bit more may be worth it to get the care you want for your pet.
The best way to find a good veterinarian is to ask people who have the same approach to pet care as you. Start with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, animal shelter worker, dog trainer, groomer, boarding kennel employee or pet sitter.
Look in the Yellow Pages under “veterinarians” and “animal hospitals,” where you can likely find important information about hours, services and staff. You can also search for veterinarians in your area online. Check for accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA accreditation means that a veterinary hospital has voluntarily pursued and met AAHA’s standards in the areas of facility, equipment and quality care.
If you’re looking for a specialist, ask about board certification. This means the vet has studied an additional two to four years in the specialty area and passed a rigorous exam.
Once you’ve narrowed your search, schedule a visit to meet the staff, tour the facility and learn about the hospital’s philosophy and policies. This is a reasonable request that any veterinarian should be glad to oblige. Write down your questions ahead of time.
What to look for in a veterinary practice:
Is the facility clean, comfortable and well-organized?
Are appointments required?
How many veterinarians are in the practice?
Are there technicians or other professional staff members?
Are dog and cat cages in separate areas?
Is the staff caring, calm, competent and courteous, and do they communicate effectively?
Do the veterinarians have special interests such as geriatrics or behavior?
Are X-rays, ultrasound, blood work, EKG, endoscopy and other diagnostics done in-house or referred to a specialist?
Which emergency services are available?
Is location and parking convenient?
Do fees fit your budget, and are discounts for senior citizens or multi-pet households available?
Remember, all of our veterinarians are very good up here, but they each have their own personalities and ways they operate their animal hospitals, so make sure you check them all out and choose one that fits you and your pet’s needs.
Join the Lake Tahoe Humane Society this weekend Aug. 20 and 21 for a super fun bicycle weekend. Saturday join us for our annual Bike Poker Ride — best and worst hands win a bike. Registration starts at 10 a.m. at California Burger Company and the ride starts at noon. Sunday bring the whole family out to Lakeview Commons for South Lake Tahoe’s first Bike Show. Enter your bike for a chance to win great prizes, visit the fun vendors and enjoy one of Tahoe’s favorite local brews in the beer garden. The Bike Show is a free event to attend Sunday Aug. 21 11-4 p.m.
Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to AskHenry@LakeTahoeHumaneSociety.org or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit http://www.Facebook.com/LakeTahoeHumane SocietySPCA, http://www.Facebook.com/Hopeful.Henry or http://www.twitter.com/LtHumaneSociety.