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What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You adore your pet and you want to make sure that any prospective veterinarian has the right qualifications to provide the care your pet requires. So, what qualifications should you be on the lookout for?

Choosing the Right Vet

It can be a stressful experience to choose a new veterinarian to care for your furry companion. Will you like them? Are their hospital hours in line with your availability? But even beyond these more day-to-day concerns, there are a number of qualifications a given vet may hold. But what do these certifications signify? Here are some of the most common you may encounter.

Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications

When searching for a veterinarian, make sure the vet you're considering is actually licensed to practice in the United States, and in your specific state. You may also want to check whether or not other people in the office are licensed as well (as as the registered veterinary technicians). Visit a prospective vet's office and look around, often you will see their certifications hanging in their reception area. If you don't, you can always ask to see their licenses or contact your state's board for veterinary medicine to receive more information.

Here 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 (sometimes called a VMD degree). All vets practicing in the U.S. must have a DVM degree. A DVM degree means that the person you are considering is, in fact, a qualified veterinarian and is fully qualified to perform the duties of the profession.

State Veterinary Licensing - To practice veterinary medicine, certain states also require a veterinarian to pass an examination which is specific to the state. These exams generally test a vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations which pertain to veterinary medicine. In order to keep up a veterinary license, vets need to obtain continuing education and may also need to renew their license regularly (often once every three years).

Additional Veterinary Qualifications

If your pet has health care requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two such certifications are:

Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians who are ABVP Certified (ABVP Diplomates) begin with a DVM degree then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates undergo 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 may want to take the extra time to locate 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 make pets more at ease in their office and during their examinations and treatment. 

Vets That May Require A Referral

Veterinary Specialists - A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and has passed an examination that evaluates their knowledge and skills in that specialty area. If your pet is unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine ranging from behavior to ophthalmology and surgery to dentistry. You may be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your pet's health issue requires specialized equipment and/or expertise that your primary care veterinarian does not have. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.

Pet Doctor's veterinary professionals are dedicated to offering you and your pet the finest care in veterinary medicine. Contact us today to learn more about the qualifications of our vets and our range of services.

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