How to Choose a Veterinarian

How to Choose a Veterinarian

My grandfather was a contractor and built a successful company.  My father grew up and worked in the business becoming a talented carpenter.  He built our house when I was a kid.  It was never finished.  Only small things, some trim here and there, windows with no windowsill, etc.  I have a friend that is an accountant and her taxes are usually late.  Another friend organizes fantastic events, but you should see her closet!   So, maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that as a cat owner, a pet advocate, and a pet sitter with a focus on providing excellent cat sitting services, I found myself with inadequate veterinarian care.

The vet I used was referred to me by a friend.  I’ll call him Vet #1. The staff was excellent and attentive. Immediately, I knew that the vet was a dog person.  He was loud and boisterous and would often scruff my cat when examining her (Alley did have some scary nails on her).  The vet had low rates and was near home.  We only went in for yearly shots, an exam and a cold or two so I kept putting off finding an alternative.  Plus I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Then Cleo got sick.  Very sick.  The vet offered advice, did a few treatments and suggested she was stressed and had a nervous tummy.  After several months I took Cleo for a second opinion and found out she has a serious disease. Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This complex disease and our journey deserves its own article, but let’s just say it’s a hard disease to manage.  Now harder to manage because months have gone by without the correct treatment.

Cleo in good health, top cat of the house

Cleo in good health, top cat of the house

I researched online and learned as much as I could about the disease and then chose another vet.  Vet #2 was better than Vet #1 and calmly listened to the information I learned online, but, he wanted to follow a conventional treatment plan that I knew from my research would be hard to implement with Cleo.

By this time, I was a momma bear with her bear cub.  I needed someone to listen, someone to be in a treatment partnership with me because I know Cleo better than anyone.  She is impossible to give liquid meds, nearly impossible to pill and if it isn’t Cleo’s idea she wants no part of it!  Cleo was top cat in the house and I’m pretty sure that included the humans.

Charlotte Street Animal Hospital

Charlotte Street Animal Hospital

The day that I walked into Charlotte Street Animal Hospital and met Dr. Jaclyn Amber I knew I’d found my partner in pet care.  Dr. Amber was so loving and kind to Cleo, speaking in a soft voice and rubbing her cheeks.  On that first visit, Dr. Amber said, “You know Cleo, if she could talk what would she want us to do?” What a wonderful question!  Dr. Amber was informed about the latest treatments and in full agreement about the different treatments I wanted to try.  She spent time showing me new ways to pill Cleo.  After a week of pilling,  Cleo started hiding from me and the meds weren’t having the response we needed.  Dr. Amber was very concerned about the hiding and we talked about how unhappy Cleo was becoming.  Her quality of life was surely suffering. Dr. Amber came up with an injection regimen I could do at home that is working for Cleo and she is spending her time laying on my lap instead of hiding under the dresser.

When is the right time to find a good vet?  Before you really need one.  When your cat is sick you need an advocate that you trust in your corner.  Make a list of the qualities that are important to you, perhaps you want to to include holistic treatments, acupuncture or nutrition expertise.  A large practice can offer longer hours, coverage for each other and the additional knowledge and experience each vet brings to the table. Not all vets will meet your requirements and if you have to scramble to find one you may waste precious time negotiating treatments with a vet that is not in alignment with your beliefs.

Things to consider when choosing a veterinarian:

  • What types of treatments are you’re interested in?
  • What type of personality do you work best with?
  • How you would like to see your pet handled?
  • One vet versus a large practice?
  • Visit the websites – are they involved in areas of interest to you?
  • Call practices that you like, are their prices for a yearly exam reasonable?

After you’ve done your research, set up a visit, evaluate the practice and the doctor on your preferences. When my pet sitting clients asked for a vet referral, I never referred Vet #1.  Would you refer your vet? If not, it’s time to do the homework and find a good veterinarian, before you need one.


Charlotte Street Animal Hospital:

Penny Martin
Certified Professional Pet Sitter

Bon Voyage Pet Services
Arden, North Carolina