Choosing the Right Vet

Is your senior dog getting the best care?

Choosing the right vet is key in keeping your senior dog happy and healthy. Whether you currently have a vet or you’re looking for a new one, senior dogs need special attention, and as they age, their needs change.  Do you feel comfortable that your senior dog will get the best care possible?  Does your vet have experience with senior dogs? How is their senior dog health exam different from a standard health exam? What’s his or her approach to senior dog care? This is an important conversation to have with any vet.

Here are a few important things to consider when visiting your vet or choosing a new one:

Get a referral from trusted friends, family and co-workers. Don’t just trust online reviews.  Asking people you know is really the best way to choose a vet.  Or ask people with dogs at your local park or dog park. Don’t settle for the first referral, get a few, then weigh all your options and do your own research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll find most people love to talk about their pets.  Ask what it is that they like about their vet. Ask about the office support staff.  Everyone who comes in contact with your pet is important to his or her health and well being. Chances are you’ll spend just as much time dealing with the staff, as you will the vet.  Are they friendly and helpful?  Do they seem to really like animals?  A visit to the vet is stressful enough for you and your pet. You’ll want to feel confident your pet is comfortable and they’re being well taken care of by everyone in the office, from the vet tech to the receptionist. 

Buddy with Kim – Vet Tech – at his Cardio Appointment

Once you choose your vet, make each visit count and ask plenty of questions. Your vet should be comfortable answering all of your questions and happy to know that your priority is keeping your senior pet healthy. If your vet doesn’t take time the time to answer all of your questions, if you feel rushed or if they seem annoyed, it’s time to find a new vet. 

Make sure your vet asks you important questions about your dog.  As your dog ages, big changes can occur from one visit to the next. So, just as important as it is to ask your vet plenty of questions, it’s equally as important that your vet asks you key questions as well. In addition to a thorough nose to tail exam, your vet should be asking you these questions about your dog’s health and lifestyle, each time you visit: 

– Exercise. Do they get enough exercise and do you notice a change in their energy levels?

– Diet and appetite level.  Do they have a good appetite? What kind of food are they eating and how often?

– Any changes in personality or disposition?

– Are they regularly taking preventative meds like heartworm and tick?

– Do you notice any changes in bowel movements or urine?

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Make sure the exam is thorough. Senior dogs need special attention. A hands-on exam is important.  Your vet should walk you through he process and explain each part of the exam.  Before you make an appointment with a new vet, ask them what’s included in a senior dog exam. In addition to a regular exam, your senior dog should be checked for alertness, hearing loss, stiff bones and joints, overall weight and body temperature, cysts and lumps, and a thorough check of their eyes, ears, teeth and gums should be performed.


For more information on choosing the right vet for your dog at any age, check out the PetMD cheat sheet: https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/care/picking-right-vet-cheat-sheet

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