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If you cannot afford veterinary care for a dog, don’t get one. Preventive and consistent care is less expensive in the long run.
Choosing a Vet
Choose a vet whom you are comfortable with and who will answer your questions.
Check out the office:
- Do animals seem just frightened, or are they also out of control?
- Is it bedlam, or reasonable for the number of different animals there?
- Do you have local recommendations from friends?
- Does the vet specialize in small animals as opposed to, say, livestock?
Try to get word-of-mouth recommendations. Asking other clients isn’t always effective because they may not have had any unusual or challenging health problems with their pets, and vets that can be OK for routine stuff often are less impressive with unusual stuff.
Call vets in your area and ask the vet techs, not the vets themselves, whom they would recommend other than their own current employer. Another good source is groomers, because they tend to hear a lot of stories from their clients.
If you find the recommended vet is very expensive, she probably owns the practice. Try one of the associates. They tend not to run up the bills so much, and a good vet will usually hire good associates as well.
Look for a vet who is willing to refer you elsewhere if they don’t know the answers rather than saying something like “It must be an allergy,” etc.
Check that the vet is licensed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). They do extensive and picky inspections of the facilities.
24-Hour Emergency Care
A good vet will either be associated with a 24-hour emergency care plan or be able to give you the number of a good place in your area.
Keep this number on your refrigerator, and check with your vet when you visit that it’s still up-to-date.
Any time you bring your dog to the vet, try to bring in a fresh fecal sample. Put a small, fingernail-sized sample into a plastic bag, or ask your vet for a supply of fecal samplers.
The vet cannot always get a fecal sample from the dog, and this saves you extra trips to return the sample and then bring the dog in if the tests are positive.
Collecting the sample:
- Try an ordinary sandwich bag and turn it inside out over your hand like a rubber glove.
- Then simply pick up the stool with your covered hand, turn the bag right-side out, enclosing the sample.
- Zip shut, or use a twist tie.
This is perfectly sanitary (and you can use the same procedure to clean up after your dog on walks).