Finding Your Pet’s Veterinarian: A Personal Story
When my mom died in 2016, she left behind her two beloved cats, Elwood and Hermione. Since I have dedicated my life to being an advocate for our companion animals, it was hugely important that I save my own mom’s cats. Both Elwood and Hermione were eventually relocated to Colorado. I inherited Hermione, and due to the dynamics of my household, Elwood is now living a wonderful life with a friend.
Every pet that enters into our life has a connection with us, they become a huge part of our story. We remember exactly how they came to us. We know the areas in life that our pets struggle, and we know what provides them with joy and comfort. Hermione was extremely shy when she came to me, literally hiding in a box for weeks. Now, she is one of the most affectionate and loving cats that I have ever met. When I look at her, I see my mom.
Shortly after Hermione was relocated to me, I booked an appointment with Dr. Angie Krause (with Boulder Holistic Vet). I love that Dr. Angie goes at the animal’s own pace when meeting for the first time. Instead of jumping right into Hermione’s physical exam, she sat next to her, spoke softly, and allowed for Hermione to get a feel for her presence.
During her initial wellness exam, it was noted that Hermione had a fractured canine that needed to be assessed and radiographed under general anesthesia. My heart sank just a bit. You see – by this time, Hermione had become a deeply important part of my life, and a big part of my grieving process. She was one of the most important things in my mom’s life, and my mom had loved her madly. In fact, I can’t look at Hermione without seeing my mom. While putting Hermione under general anesthesia was a scary thought for me, I knew that her fractured canine was likely reducing her quality of life. Hermione needed a medical advocate, and I knew that medical advocate was me.
You and your pet have a story too. We hear your stories, we see your stories, we feel them and we are them. Being the best advocate that you can be for your animal is a huge responsibility, and it’s one of the most important roles that you can play in your pet’s life. Finding and creating a veterinary team that aligns with the way you approach your pet’s wellness plan is imperative. Feeling and being supported by that team will have a direct impact on your animal’s health, for their entire lifetime.
So, how do you find the right team for you and your pet? Listed below are THREE qualities that I, personally, look for in a veterinarian. As I’ve mentioned, the qualities that you need in a veterinarian may look different than what I need. My hope is that reading this blog will plant a seed of curiosity in your mind, regarding what your pet’s ideal wellness team should look like.
QUALITY #1: METHOD OF COMMUNICATION
For me, the way that a veterinarian speaks to me is essential in how I feel and process the entire experience. When Dr. Angie was examining Hermione’s dental health, she talked through all of my options (restoring the tooth through oral surgery, extracting the tooth, finding a board certified veterinary dentist, using a general practitioner, etc). We discussed the importance of the veterinary nurses on staff, the hospital’s anesthetic protocols, and recovery procedures.
She did not make the decisions surrounding Hermione’s health for me (only I can do this), however she gently and professionally guided me through my different options. When I came to a conclusion on what felt like the best way to go forward, she gave me surgeon referrals. She spoke to me with sensitivity and professionalism – understanding that this is a big decision for me and my pet. To me, this is the essence of supportive and open communication.
Remember: Your veterinarian is the professional, but YOU are the expert of your animal.
QUALITY #2: METHOD OF HANDLING
I openly admit that I am a highly sensitive person, pet parent, AND veterinary professional. The way that a veterinarian approaches and handles my pet is critically important for both myself and my animal.
Minimal restraint, positive reinforcement, and a low stress environment all impact the quality of my pet’s care, and patient/client compliance. The more relaxed and comfortable my pet is, the easier and more thorough the veterinary team’s medical examination will be. Additionally, the more comfortable I will feel, the more receptive I will be towards the veterinarian’s findings and recommendations.
QUALITY #3: METHOD OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
This is HUGELY important for me! What kind of medicine does your pet’s veterinarian practice, and do they attend continuing education courses to stay up to date on the latest medical advancements and trends?
I personally take an integrative approach to my pet’s wellness plan. I strongly believe in the fusion of traditional and holistic medicine, and the body’s natural ability to heal itself. This is why Dr. Angie is such a great fit for my pack. With an integrative approach to medicine, I feel she uses what works best, and keeps an open mind to both our physical and emotional needs.
Stay tuned for our “How to Find the Perfect Veterinarian Guide”, which will be coming out soon!
SO, WHAT CHOICE HAVE I MADE FOR HERMIONE?
I chose a board certified veterinary dentist for Hermione’s dental procedure. This is an individual who is a veterinarian, but then advanced his career in dental health. You can’t get more specialize than that!
When I called to schedule the appointment, the receptionist on the other end was extremely kind and accommodating (this again reiterates the communication piece). I felt immediately that Hermione was in good hands.
Side note: Trust your intuition!
WRAPPING IT UP…
I cannot express the importance of establishing a team for you and your pet enough. This becomes extremely critical when and if your animal becomes unwell, or needs a procedure which requires hospitalization or general anesthesia. As mentioned before, your veterinarian is the professional, but you are the expert of your animal.
The qualities that I have listed above are just 3 of many questions you should ask, when interviewing for a veterinarian/veterinary team. Stay tuned to receive our full “How to Find the Perfect Veterinarian Guide”.
The team that you create goes way beyond the veterinarian that you choose, and I invite you to consider the questions you ask when adding a new team member into your pet’s wellness plan. Your pet’s wellness team includes veterinarians, veterinary nurses (your coach!), bodywork practitioners, trainers, pet sitters, dog walkers, groomers, and everyone in your pet’s life.
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