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What makes a good veterinarian?
  • SakuSaku
    Posts: 372
    Since Saku and Mina came to our family, we've taken them to see many veterinarians on different occasions. While vet bills were scarily high, the quality of the care was somewhat disappointing. The waiting time is generally good and the vet assistants are mostly sweet and helpful, but we usually only get to see veterinarian for about 10 minutes at most and usually in a very rush manner.

    4 out 5 veterinarians were scared to handle my shiba (even though they don't show any teeth or growl) and requested they'r put on muzzle. One of them even refused to touch Saku. We went for diarreah and vomiting issue not skin problem. One veterinarian receives a good review on the internet, only see us for less than 3 minutes for a physical exam and charge $100. I can't help but feel being robbed.

    The most ridiculous experience is this vet who told my husband to switch Orijen kibble to generic ALDI kibbles or kibble n bits. She told him Orijen is too rich for my shiba (that I agree) and ALDI generic kibbles are the best (what the hell?). She said she feed all her dogs ALDI kibbles. I just checked the ingredient list, it is made up with corn, preservatives, chicken flavor (not even the chicken meal) and other craps!

    It makes me wonder...even though they are veterinarian, do they have any medical standard of practice they need to stick to it? Also, the vet bill ranges widely with same service, isn't it regulated at all?
    Saku & Mina's mom

    Saku & Mina
    Post edited by Saku at 2011-09-27 12:13:02
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8294
    The best way to pick a vet is to do it when a vet is NOT needed. Think of it as an interview process. Think about what is best for you and your dog and what you want out of a vet. Make out a questionnaire to take with you. Just have a question and answer period with the vet. See how s/he interacts with your dogs (no examination required). Most vets have a reduced rate for an appointment like this.

    Yes, there are protocols in the veterinary world, just as there is in the medical world. However, vets (unless they are specialized) are like GP's. They are given a very brief overview of nutrition, which is usually sponsored by one of the big grocery store dog food brands. Which accounts for their lack of knowledge about food.

    And no, vet pricing is not regulated by any government agency.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Something I found helpful in determining if a vet felt right to me was having them see one of my pups for something minor and not necessarily worth having the vet look at but screams over worrisome owner. I've found that good vets will take the time to examine your dog and answer your questions, while others will just diagnose and push you out the door. For example, I took Miyu to about 7 different vets for a spay pre-exam. Since spay/neuter procedures are so common place for a vet, and something they should really know a lot about, it was a great way to get an idea of the vets mentality about it and general personality towards someone who doesn't quite think the same. Most said that Miyu is going to practically die of breast cancer if I don't get it done ASAP, one told me to keep her intact and that I'd kill her is she gets spayed, and another waiting until after her second heat to spay. In the end, I found one vet nearby that I was comfortable having as my regular vet and one vet that I scheduled for Miyu's spay (who's kind of far away but was experienced in the procedure I wanted).

    It really can be a hit or miss with a vet, and one way of finding one you may like is to talk to other dog people near you. See what vet they take their dogs to and what they liked and hated about the place. Talk to established training facilities, especially those involved in competitive sports, Those kinds of places seem to know the dirt on many of the bad vets and could point to ones that would work for you.
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  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3450
    @ Saku , $100 dollar for a 3 min physical exam? Wow. If a doctor is scared to handle a Shiba :( You should just walk out the door. I'd understand if its a big pitbull (poor pitbulls are stereotyped) but a cute Shiba?!!?

    I chose my vet through reviews + word of mouths from my customers. Make sure you read both the good and bad reviews. There are a couple of things I look for in a vet. I make sure they have experience/knowledge of different breeds, since I have owned 4 different breeds now. Secondly I make sure they're not sales motivated, but service motivated. Time should not be an issue, and they shouldn't be rushing something that is important to us. Third, remember to see check their policy regarding emergency situations and drop ins. Lastly, every little thing counts. I love how my vet does follow up calls to check how my pups are doing, and ask if I have any questions.


  • Good advice here overall. It's hard to find good vets! The only piece of advice I'd add is to stay away from the chains. I'm not sure where you are, so this might not be that useful, but there are some chains here like VCA that I hate! I don't like their policies of testing for everything, I don't like that they don't take much time with the dogs, and often take the dogs in the back to examine rather than let me be with them, and I've heard bad things about their practices from a vet who used to work for one. I've had much better luck with independent vets.

    That said, I've not come across many vets that have a good understanding of nutrition, so it's become the least important thing for me in judging vets. I just pretty much ignore anything they say about diet, though I do always tell vets up front that I feed raw and that if they can't get past that, we won't be able to work together. My current vets don't like the raw diet, but we've agreed to disagree about it.
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2011-09-27 01:13:18
  • sigh, looking for a vet sucked so bad for me. i went to 4 different ones!

    the first one seemed like a good vet but it was a vca hospital and it had really bad and sketchy reviews and it was the most expensive... i just didn't want to risk it going back there.

    the second one i went to because the office got good reviews and my best friend goes there *but for a different vet, i didn't know there were two* anyway, the vet had no people skills and treated me like a little kid. my puppy growled at something they did, i can't remember what now, and they said that my puppy is a bad puppy.

    the third one we went to was the one with the good reviews from the same office at the last. he grabbed my dog by the scruff as soon as i put him on the table. my dog was already anxious and the grabbing made it worse, so he was growling. again, i am told my puppy is a bad puppy and that i needed a behaviorist.

    the fourth one and the one we will continue to go to is actually an acquaintance of my mom so we got some discounts. but that's not the reason we stay. the receptionist who works there actually advised us to drop by to get my pup used to the place before his neutering. and the vet understands that the breed can be skittish and doesn't force my dog to do anything. anyway, my dog decided the receptionist is good people and lets her touch him a little, so she's the one handling my dog when necessary.

    sigh, i really hated vet hunting.
    ninjarf21.tumblr.com
  • Vet hunting definitely sucks. :( The first vet I went to wasn't a chain but it acted like one, there were like 6 vets in the one office. Rubee's spay sutures got infected and I took her in 3 times to see a vet tech for free because I didn't want to pay the $60 just to have vet look at her stitches. Finally, I had to demand the vet and even request a microscope exam of her pus before they finally realized I was right. I immediately took her to another vet. So frustrating. Whatever vet you choose, just remember that you have to be your pet's advocate. If you think something's not right, don't let it go.

    The vet I go to now is absolutely wonderful, he works out of an independent pet store by my house. We struck up a conversation with another shopper who recommended him and after the first visit, I was sold. He performed a procedure in under 10 minutes on Rubee's sutures and within 3 days, you can't even tell she was ever infected. Even better, he only charged us $50 to meet with both of our dogs, briefly examine them, and extract a huge knot from Rubee's sutures.

    From my experience, the smaller clincs that only have 1 or 2 vets on staff seem to be best. We took my childhood cats to a tiny clinic with one vet and 2 techs for 10 years. They just seemed to be more focused on quality of care and less on your pocketbook.
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  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2516
    I have yet to actually have a regular vet. Conker's "first" vet was amazing though. He got stung by something the day I got him and while I was going to take him in anyways, the swelled up puppyface was somewhat alarming and I wanted to get him in asap. I just waltzed into the office and asked if it were possible to get Conker looked at. They were about to close but they allowed him to be seen. The techs were all real nice and the vet was very gentle and took his time looking Conker over and got to know him a bit.
    They charged me the regular rate too. No inflated price for coming in unscheduled or anything (has happened in the past).

    I am kinda dreading taking Conker into the vet with the Girls when they have to go in this upcoming... November I think? From what I've heard from other dog owners, vets who think similar to me don't seem to exist here in GP and I don't want to deal with someone who won't respect the way I raise my dog and tries to push crap on me.
  • catloreecatloree
    Posts: 1541
    I had a terrible experience with a vet when we first moved up to the Dallas area, so I completely sympathize. It was a few years ago, when we only had our Pomeranian, Sadie. We had just moved into a new area, so I looked up a few vets online, found one that had a couple of good reviews, & took her in for a normal checkup & to meet the vet. The first thing that the vet did was yank her up on the table & start pulling her back legs around. Then, he grabs a plastic model of a dog's knee that was already conveniently sitting on the table & starts telling us that she has a luxating patella in both back legs & that we'll need to schedule surgery as soon as possible. She had never shown symptoms or had any trouble with either leg, but the vet insisted that she would become crippled if we didn't get her into surgery within the month. I started bawling, and my husband told the guy that we were going to get a second opinion. We never went back.

    We went to another vet who confirmed that while she does have luxating patellas, both are very low grade & she will likely live her whole life without having any issues. She is 5 years old now & has never shown any symptoms. I've read that over half of the Pomeranians in the USA have luxating patellas, so I think that the vet just saw us as an easy mark & tried to sell us on a possibly dangerous surgery that she didn't need. It disgusts me.

    When we moved again, I spent a lot of time looking for a new vet. I finally found one that we (including the dogs) love. When we went in for the first time, he sat down with us & spent over an hour talking about new puppy care (we had just added Elwood to the family), including positive reinforcement & crate training. He even encouraged us to get Elwood into puppy kindergarten as soon as possible. He has never tried to push expensive care or special food, and is very respectful of the decisions we make for our dogs. All of the staff, including the vet, knows our dogs by name & they always ask how they are doing in agility or whether we've had any more issues with something we've been in with before. In fact, when our Pomeranian had to go to the emergency vet from eating a chicken bone, our regular vet called me the next day to find out if she was okay. He called me back several times that week to check in.

    There are good vets out there, they are just hard to find!
    Catherine (human), Elwood (Shiba), & Sadie (Pomeranian)
  • SakuSaku
    Posts: 372
    It is so disheartening after seeing so many vet in my area and still haven't found a good one for my shibas. Some clinic looks so dirty and shady I don't even want to step in. I got insurance for both of my dogs now, just so my purse will suffer less while we go visit different vets. If anyone lives in Philadelphia and knows a good vet for shiba inu, please let me know!
    Saku & Mina's mom

    Saku & Mina
  • Unbelievable how everyone has had a similar experience finding a vet that actually, I don’t know…. cares about animals! We tried 2 separate vet offices. The small office was terrible. Outdated equipment, an exam room that could use some cleaning, an assistant that was worried about fur on her clothes, bleeding after a shot because he didn’t know how to administer, and if all of that wasn’t terrible enough the charges were outrageous. $40 for an “exam fee” (he didn’t examine him, not a peek in his ears, not a listen to the heart, nada!), $30 for a “records fee” (really? That’s a great way to keep new customers), $20 disposal fee (for tossing a needle), etc. All said and done, the bill was $300 and he had 4 vaccinations. Then I couldn’t get off their mailing list.

    The second office was incredibly reasonable in prices. The same round of shots for my other guy and the bill was about $100; however, the vet rushed me off before I could ask a single question. Since this office had 4 vets, a clean office, and the proper equipment, we decided to just keep trying different vets there since the prices were fantastic and the staff was friendly. Well, lucky number 4 was the winner. He may talk fast but he doesn’t say goodbye until I say it first and he calls checking on progress with a believable caring tone.

    I guess my sad advice is keep trying until you find the right one. It makes all the looking worth wild and your puppy will thank you for being in caring hands!
  • HamletHamlet
    Posts: 146
    @Saku - don't let an old or unrenovated clinic turn you off (unless, of course, it's obviously dirty and in shambles). Our vet is in an older strip mall converted to animal hospital and the office looks a bit shabby, but their care is great. They've actually completed renovations on the strip mall, however, and will be moving into a new space this week (after 5+ years in the same old drab office).

    As with human doctors, I tend to go by word of mouth and then get a feel for their bedside manner. Our current vet takes care of all of my parents' pets. They have multiple vets in the clinic, but Dr. Dooley is our favorite and so all of our pets see him. He is a younger (30's) vet with an easy going bedside manner who is super sweet with animals and knows how to put them at ease. He is also happy to talk to us about behavioral training, nutrition and vaccine schedules (including blood titers and when we should plan on starting those, if we opt). He is very knowledgeable about current trends and studies, will talk about home cooked or raw. When I've called with questions that the techs don't feel comfortable handling, I'll get a same day call back from him. He actually personally called me after Hamlet and Pepper's neutering/spaying to assure me that the procedures went okay, go over what to expect when we pick them up, etc. We also get alot of comp'ed exams, samples, etc since we're regulars to the clinic.

    I was very impressed when I brought in our kitty for her 1st annual at 1 year old and mentioned my concern over needle injection site fibromas in cats. He talked at length about the studies on the matter and explained that they have an air gun injector for cats that largely avoids the issues common with needle injections.

    Oh, did I mention he loves Shibas? :p
    Post edited by Hamlet at 2011-09-27 09:05:31
  • Wow - people seem to have a lot of bad experience with vets. I consider myself fairly lucky because my vet seems great so far.

    What we did do, before getting the puppy though, was go vet shopping. I asked people in my area what vet they were using and whether they liked the place. I looked at reviews on Yelp to see what people thought about various vets in our area.

    Then we just made a trip to about four different vets to see what we thought of them, which was fairly instructive. Most of them had great front office staff, but at one we pretty much felt like "take a number and get in line." One of them had a bunch of other small animals (rabbits, ferrets, etc) in the waiting room, which made me think it might not be the best place.

    What made us choose the place we're with is that the doctor came out to chat with us briefly, talk about their practice, his experience, etc. He's the guy who owns the clinic. It turns out he's not the actual vet we're seeing most times, but the woman who treats Chibi is also very patient and interested in doing what's right for the dog.

    I asked all of them about fees and hours up front, and they were generally in the same ballpark, which made my decision a lot easier. But unless money is a real issue, I wouldn't base my decision on who's cheapest (although I've been told that vets in some tonier neighbourhoods jack up prices, so you should ask).

    Basically, you're choosing your pet's doctor. Make sure you're comfortable with them before you need anything important done.
  • We took Sora yesterday and it just seems like the vet didn't really know much about Shiba inus but they reason I picked this location was because they do not use the lepto vaccines on any dogs unless they go hiking. I had visited another vet close by and the woman at the front desk insisted on the lepto vaccine so that drove me away and it was before I got Sora. Our puppies health is important but we felt kinda robbed in the sense of lacked of experience with the breed. We don't really want to take her all over the place but we will see how it goes. What irritated us yesterday was the fact that we told the vet and her assistant the the breeder had already trimmed Soras nails when we picked her up on Sunday I had to hold her will the breeder used the Dremel. She still wanted to show us how to clip her nails and used the clipper kinds and made two of her nails bleed. We were so efin mad. Because we told her she didn't need them. We know she felt stupid afterwards. But sora was a champ she didn't yelp when it happened. So next time we will not let them trim. If anyone is in the northern Va area and knows of vets with experience on shibas please let me know. For all other owner who are on the hunt of a good vet I agree with everyone's recommendation to follow your gut. They are in business because of us and it's certainly not cheap. Good luck to all
  • @Losech....Oskar's breeder is in Grants Pass.... I don't know who her vet is, but I wonder if they are any good? (I must have a record of it somewhere as Oskar's first shots were with that vet. At least this vet would be used to working with NKs.....
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2516
    @shibamistress Ooh, I remember that now that you mention it! If you can find out who it was, I'd love to know so I could at least give them a shot.
  • @Losech the vet is Allen Creek Vet Hospital. I have no idea how they are, but I know that at least Oskar's breeder does sometimes feed raw, and is concerned about vaccines (she gave me a copy of Dr. Dodds vaccine protocols for dogs like Akitas that sometimes have bad reactions to vaccinations) so unless you've already tried them and didn't like them, maybe they're worth a try?
  • Bump--
    </4 out 5 veterinarians were scared to handle my shiba (even though they don't show any teeth or growl) and requested they'r put on muzzle. One of them even refused to touch Saku. blockquote>

    Basically the above is what happened with my Quakey when I took him to Dr. Sani at Dupont Animal Center here in Washington, DC. She would not touch him if he was not muzzled even though he was no doing anything. They had leave the room and they muzzled him. They completely traumatized my little boy which led to anxiety issues that thank goodness we worked through with behaviorist vet Dr. Kathy Meyer and much patience and training on my part along with giving him medication. Had I known then what I know now I would not have allowed them to slap a muzzle on him. I would have told them where to get off.

    Now for the fabulous news---I adore Dr. Cabaniss who is the owner of Collins Animal Hospital in Georgetown. She and her vet tech Reggie are wonderful with my Quakey. We went for a third vet visit on Friday and they had to draw blood and Quakey was fine. He did do a Shiba scream but I was in the room talking to him and petting him while Dr. Cabaniss drew the blood quickly and Reggie held Quakey. All went well. Dr. Cabaniss and Reggie gave my Quakey treats and much love both before and after the blood draw and all was well. We will be going back in two months for a fun visit with Dr. Cabaniss and Reggie. I am so very grateful to have found such an amazing vet.
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 267
    So happy to hear, Antoinette. Quakey is so lucky to have found you!

    I can't relate to the vet horror stories, I think we were super lucky to have such a great animal hospital a short drive from us (24/7 365 days a year, no emergency fees ever, full staff of great vets and way better pricing than city clinics), we get the best of everything including price and they do great annual "wellness" plans that covers yearly exams, nail trims, ear cleaning, baths, vaccines, flea/tick/heartworm meds, microchip & spay/neuter if they aren't yet, and (my favorite part) includes UNLIMITED office consults. That last one is worth its weight in GOLD and lets us be super proactive with our pets, instead of reactive.

    They call us regularly to check in on all our pets, there's two vets in particular that alternate calling every week to check in on our cat (Dr's Cirone and Bahlmann), and the staff love our Shibas but there is one vet in particular (Dr. Good) that loves interacting with our Shibas & even lets Rhyz groom his beard during his visits. :x

    This is my enthusiastic endorsement of Cavan Hills Veterinary Services, if you're anywhere in southern Ontario they are worth the drive to Bethany. Friends from all over Toronto make the trip just to go to this place, they are absolutely amazing.
  • @spacedogs-Thanks for your kind words.

    I am so very happy that you have found wonderful vets for your Shibas!! I feel good about endorsing vets that have bee wonderful to our furry babies. I bumped this discussion because I think it is important to get recommendations from other Shiba parents.
  • gakugaku
    Posts: 20
    Sorry if I am posting in the wrong thread! Please direct me in the right direction if I should be posting somewhere else.

    My pup, Gaku, has been going to the same vet since day one. I picked it because of the good reviews and proximity (3 minute walk) from our home. He used to LOVE the vet. During our walks he would beg to visit his favorite vet tech. Unfortunately this is no longer the case.

    Last week, we went in for our annual checkup and Gaku was not happy to be there. In the examination room, he asked to be on my lap three times. He has NEVER asked to be on my lap, so this was super concerning to me. He kept shaking while I comforted him and did not attempt to get off. I cancelled the nail trim that was scheduled and took him home after he got his boosters since I didn't want him to be more stressed. He was fine once we left though obviously displeased with me.

    So my question is, should I switch vets? I honestly like both of the vets as well as the vet techs that work there. I'm pretty sure he stopped liking the vet because of his neuter. He had complications (blood wasn't clotting) so he had a second surgery the next day. It was a horrible time. Other than that, I am pleased with the care and service we receive. But, I don't want Gaku to be stressed at every vet appointment.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8294
    @gaku - Take him by for fun visits. Drop by and have the receptionist and techs give him love and treats. Make it a positive and fun experience for him.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • @gaku-I completely agree with @sunyata. I took Quakey for a fun visit with his vet and vet tech and they both loved up on him and gave him treats and he was so happy. Then two weeks later we went in for a blood draw and all went well like I described above. I am planning to continue the practice of taking him for a fun visit and then two weeks later taking him for a "real" visit but always try to make it fun. Both for fun visits and for "real" vet visits make sure to take lots of extra special treats with you and give them to the vet and the vet tech to give to Gaku. Give him extra special treats right before you leave the house and during the ride and when you get to the vet office. Keep your voice and mannerisms upbeat and positive and make it loads of fun for him. He will then have a good association with going to the vet. When we got home from the vet after the "real" vet visit I also had a new toy for Quakey. Also, I find it beneficial to set up an appointment during the week and the first appointment of the day so there is less stress with other pets in the office. That means I have to take vacation time from work but it is totally worth my little furry boy's happiness. I hope my suggestions help.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8294
    Great points @Antoinette - However, I will add, that if your pup is having a really hard time at the vet, I would take him by as often as you can for fun visits. Most vet staff love this since they get to see happy pets instead of anxious ones.

    Just make it fun and keep him below his threshold.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 267
    @gaku To add on to Antoinette and sunyata's excellent advice, there are some dog appeasing pheromone products out there that can help calm an anxious dog. We picked some up for Laika to help with her car anxiety at first because we couldn't even get her near it without her experiencing absolute terror. Put some DAP (we used Adaptil brand) on her collar, and after 3 rounds of exposure and positive reinforcement she not only went near the car but got in it of her own free will and happily went for a car ride the next day without using the DAP (and to this day has no problems with cars any longer). DAP doesn't work for all dogs in all situations, and you still have to practice the positive reinforcement while using it, but when it does work it really helps to calm the dogs anxiety & help them overcome their fear of unknown or uncomfortable situations and/or places.
  • gakugaku
    Posts: 20
    @sunyata @antoinette Thank you for your advice! I will definitely try visits. We moved so we aren't as close as before but if it will help, it's worth it! They always so good to him so I hope this will slowly make him open up again. He will hopefully not have an appointment until his next annual so he'll have plenty of fun experiences before any shots.

    @spacedogs I never knew of DAP. Sounds like it worked wonders for Laika! I will look into it. Thank you!

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