You want a vet that has the right qualifications to give your cat or dog the care they need to be healthy because you love your pet. Here our Louisa vets share what you should look for in a veterinarian.
Choosing the Right Vet
Deciding on a new vet for your cat or dog could be a stressful task because there are so many things to take into account. Will you like the vet? Are the hospital operating hours in line with your schedule? However, beyond the day-to-day sensibilities of choosing a vet, there are various certifications a vet can have. So, what do these certifications mean? Here we explain some of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When searching for a vet, look to see if the veterinarian you are considering is licensed to work in the U.S. and in your state. You might also what to designate some time to learn if the other people working in the hospital are licensed, such as registered veterinary technicians. Visit the vet's office and look around, if you can't find the certifications hanging in the reception area, just ask to see their licenses or contact your state board of veterinary medicine to get more information.
These are the two certifications you are looking for:
DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing that you need to check is that your vet is qualified to practice in the U.S. When a person graduates from an American veterinary school they receive a DVM—Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (also called a VMD degree). All vets practicing in the U.S. need to have a DVM degree. A DVM degree means that the person you are considering is, in fact, a qualified veterinarian and is completely qualified to perform the duties of the profession.
State Veterinary Licensing - In order to practice veterinary medicine, some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams usually test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. In order to keep a state veterinary license, vets need to receive continuing education and might have to renew their license on a regular basis (often every 3 years).
Additional Veterinary Qualifications
If your cat or dog has specific health care requirements that are beyond standard veterinary care, you might want to consider a vet with qualifications that go past the usual DVM degree. Two such certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians who are ABVP Certified (ABVP Diplomates) start with a DVM degree then continue on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond what is needed to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates take on a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examination to become board certified specialists recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These vets have put in the hard work and training to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animals.
Fear Free Certification - If you have a pet that is high-strung or anxious you might want to take the extra time to track down a Fear-Free Certified vet in your area. Fear-Free certification can apply to an individual vet, another veterinary professional within the hospital, or even the hospital itself. Fear Free training teaches ways in which veterinary professionals can help pets feel more at ease in their office and during their examinations and treatment.