Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's up, Doc? Choosing a Veterinarian for Your Horse

This article is from our March newsletter, which you can view here:

By: Darlene M. Cox, darlc5@aol.com

Anyone who has owned a horse will need to obtain the services of a veterinarian at some point, whether it is simply for vaccination administration or for an emergency call to stitch a cut or something much more serious. One of the most important responsibilities we have as horse owners is to choose wisely those who provide medical services to our equine partners. For the well being of your horse, it is good to have identified a veterinarian as the "vet of record" before the need arises to place an emergency call, but how do you select a vet that is a good match for your horse or your ideals as a horse owner? You can "vet" the veterinarians in your area by conducting phone interviews with them and asking pertinent questions about their practice and their philosophy to treatment. These short interviews and the information gleaned from them can be the beginning basis toward choosing your veterinarian.

Veterinarians come in all ages, shapes, sizes, genders, personalities, and specialties. Several factors must be considered when making your selection. While expense may most likely be the first thought that comes to mind, the most important criterion is the availability of your veterinarian to respond to an emergency call. Throughout the years, I have used several veterinarians whose fees have been roughly in the same ballpark, give or take a couple hundred dollars, so on a cost comparative basis, it pretty much pans out. Availability can be broken down to two factors: how close the veterinarian's practice is to your farm and how large is his clientele. A more experienced veterinarian may also have more clients, whereby response time may be slower than that of a less-experienced, yet quite capable, vet. Younger vets, those establishing their client base and most recently out of veterinarian school, will be on top of their game with the latest treatment protocols. Don't rule out a younger, less experienced vet simply because they have not yet set roots down in an area.

Personality and gender may also play a role in making a better choice. If you are someone who is inquisitive and wants to know everything that the vet is doing to your horse, then you would be better matched with a veterinarian that is comfortable with taking the time to answer your questions, rather than one who quickly, efficiently, and quietly renders care to your horse and then just as quickly leaves for their next appointment, leaving you behind with unanswered questions. With regard to gender, you may prefer the care of a woman over a man or vice versa. Some feel a female veterinarian handles their horse more gently and patiently than a male vet. Others may recognize the ability of a male vet to better control your horse during treatment. Regardless of your vet's gender, professionalism and competency should be recognizable traits, and a vet possessing them will always keep the best interests of your horse (his patient) and you (his client) in keen focus.

Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, your vet works for you. You are entrusting the well being of your beloved horse under his care, so making an informed decision in choosing the best vet is very important.

Happy trails!

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