I'm a vet. Here's what you should know about ushow to grade your vet
how to grade your vet
7 questions for your pet’s doctor
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THe most important skill.
How to Grade Your Vet
What’s the single best way to grade your veterinarian?
No contest. The most important role your vet should play is… your partner.
Your vet should…
- Take their time.
- Ask you questions, and listen to your answers.
- Discuss diagnostic and treatment options.
- Help you make the best choice… for you, your family, and your pet.
If you can’t talk WITH your vet… find another one.
Your most important question
Your Vet and the question… Why?
The single best thing you can do for your pet… is to ask “Why?”. Gently and respectfully.
- Why is this your diagnosis?
- Why do you suggest these tests?
- Why should my pet get these vaccines?
- Why do you recommend this treatment?
… And a great vet should be able to answer these questions for you. Easily, and without getting pissed.
The OTHER side of veterinary practice
How to Grade Your Vet — Dollars and Sense
One way NOT to grade your vet is by their fees. A great vet is worth WHATEVER they charge, because you don’t get many “do-overs” when it comes to your family’s health. That’s the honest truth. If you find a great vet, then pay them.
That said, it can be very difficult to separate merely average vets from great ones… which is where our handout on “7 Questions to Ask Your Vet” comes in.
But let’s talk about how your vet is judged by their bosses or practice manager. Unless your vet is in fact the practice owner, they are judged (and usually compensated) in two ways:
- ACT, or Average Client Transaction. Put simply, how much do they charge every client they see.
- Their Gross Income, or how much they make the practice on a daily basis.
Here’s a little trade secret: A majority of employed vets are paid 20-25% of what they make for the practice.
This means that, by definition, your vet’s goal is not only to heal your pet… but also to do so in a way that makes as much money for the practice as possible.
This compensation model is most rigorous (cutthroat?) at the corporate veterinary clinics such as NVA, VCA, PetSmart, and Pathway, but is likely present to some degree in any multi-doc practice.
Pills and flea products
How to Grade Your Vet, the Pharmacist
When I opened my veterinary practice 30 some odd years ago, about 20% of my income came from the sale of drugs and flea meds — the pharmacy.
OK, that was well before the internet. Stop laughing.
Today, you can almost always save money on your pet’s drug/parasite needs by asking your vet for a prescription and going to online retailers.
The best, in my opinion?
- Chewy for foods
- California Pet Pharmacy
Many state veterinary boards REQUIRE vets to offer a written prescription during the office visit, and you can usually save money by asking for it.
However, one thing to remember is that these online retailers will not help you when you have a pet emergency. Show your vet some love and keep some of the pharmacy business with them.
A special pet deserves a specialist.
How To Grade Your Vet, the Generalist
One more story from the past.
When I graduated from vet school back in 1986, we were told two things.
- Every pet needed annual vaccines
- Every vet needed to do everything, from toenail trims to orthopedic surgery.
Today, I know that neither of those things are true. And your pet is healthier because of it.
In today’s veterinary world, a great vet should know what they can solve for you…. and they should know when to refer complicated cases to a specialist.
Unlike human medicine, you can generally make your own appointment with a specialist if you feel that you are running into a problem or are seeking a second opinion. No referral from your veterinarian is generally needed.
Here is a link to a roster of specialists for your pet. Just type in your zip code and the specialty that you need… and away you go.
If you have questions about a referral, please get in touch with me and I will help you.
How to Grade Your Vet, the Dentist.
It’s easy. Two questions will solve this for you.
- How often does your vet recommend an anesthetic dental cleaning?
- Does your veterinarian take x-rays of every tooth in the mouth during every dental?
Every one of us can sympathize with a toothache, and our pets are no different.
Here are two rules for you… for your pet’s sake.
1) Every pet under 20 lbs, dog or cat, should have at least one anesthetic dental cleaning a year.
2) If your vet doesn’t take x-rays of every tooth in your pet’s body with every dental, they flunk.
Dental disease can take 15% off our pets’ lives. Find a vet who can solve it.