Arts & Life

Pet Patter: vetting your vet

This monthly column is a space for simple, useful directions, tips and information to help you keep your animals safe and happy.


Taking the time to choose the right vet for you is crucial and it is equally important that you be a diligent client and parent. When we accept the responsibility of animal guardianship, we need to take the time, do some research, and find out what constitutes abnormal behaviour.

For example, if your cat or dog begins pacing more than usual around the house they are in pain and you need to seek professional help. As with people, early detection is often key and there are can be many small signs indicating a problem. If we are vigilant, we can save our animal’s life or prevent her from going through pain, surgery, or treatment that is costly and would have otherwise been unnecessary if we had done our job as parents.

Animals are not like children. Often animals won’t make it clear when they are in pain, so it is easy to fool ourselves into assuming they are ok because they may still be eating or chasing a ball. Going online and spending a bit of time informing ourselves is essential.

Preventive care is also important. Annual check-ups, teeth cleaning and the like are another element to early detection. Don’t wait until your dog is ill as that may be too late.

When I was shopping around for a new vet, my first step was to talk to my circle of friends, particularly the ones who shared the same sense of due diligence. I narrowed it down and then visited each practice. I asked for a tour of the facility, taking note of such things as cleanliness and organization, and making sure the cats’ and dogs’ cages were in separate rooms.

Pay attention to the general atmosphere of the place. Is the mood cold/frenetic or warm and efficient?

A good veterinarian is a good listener. A good veterinarian takes the time to explain everything to you in detail. A good veterinarian has gentle hands. However, these qualities alone do not guarantee that the vet is competent and honest.

The most important aspect of all is to trust your instincts. If the vet is telling you one thing, and something about his diagnosis does not sit right with you, get a second opinion. We are often anxious and scared for our animal, and this can cause us to ignore our own guts. Do your own research and ask a lot of questions.

[related_content slugs=”pet-patter-to-spay-or-not-to-spay,pet-patter-saving-your-pets-life-part-three-choking,pet-patter-animal-grab-bag,pet-patter-for-the-love-of-leash” description=”More Pet Patter” position=”right”]If it becomes clear your vet is lying to you to make more money, or is impatient with your legitimate questions, or evasive in any way, tell everyone you know to boycott that vet. You will be saving lives of animals and preventing terrified parents digging into their savings to spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary treatment. Bad vets need to be called out and put out of business.

If you find a good vet who meets the above criteria then share this information with the world! Tell your friends, post on Facebook. These honest and true animal doctors deserve our patronage.


Samantha Bennett lives and writes in Montreal and is the owner of the pet care business Soins Mille Pattes. She can be reached at