Angie's LIST Guide to
Veterinarians

Regular vet check-ups are an essential part of keeping your pet healthy and helping to proactively prevent issues. Veterinarians operate in clinics across the United States and offer a wide variety of services to owners.
 

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angie's list how to find a veterinarian
A veterinarian can help keep your pet healthy. Make sure you find the best care for your furry friend. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Laura Z. of Mableton, Ga.)
 
 

Vet basics

Like other medical professionals, vets are regulated and must typically attend a post-secondary institution, obtain a degree and be listed as a member in good standing with a state veterinary association to open a practice. A "vet" who practices without a license can face stiff fines at both the municipal and state level if caught. Vets operate out of clinics and take appointments for animal visits. Most major cities have at least one emergency clinic which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and takes pets on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Much of what vets do falls into the category of preventative medicine. Pet owners make regular appointments to have a checkup for their dog or cat, which will include things like taking its weight, checking its teeth, and possibly testing its urine. Vets also perform immunizations for a fee. The immunizations -- necessary if you ever need to take your pet to a kennel or have a professional pet sitter come to your home -- include shots for diseases like rabies, distemper, kennel cough and feline leukemia.

If your pet has a specific ailment, your local veterinarian can also help. Urinary tract infections, for example, are common in dogs who swim in local lakes or rivers. Vets can both identify the infection and prescribe antibiotics to cure it. They can also schedule and perform certain surgeries such as spaying and neutering, which prevent your pet from accidentally getting pregnant or getting another pet pregnant. In female animals, spaying involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus; in males, neutering is the removal of the testes.

Other veterinary services

In addition to checkups, immunizations and neutering, many vet clinics also offer specialized services to pet owners. Cat declawing is one popular option, and advanced techniques allow this procedure to be carried out using a very precise laser, minimizing the risk of injury to the animal. Ultrasounds are available in some facilities as well, which let vets scan abnormalities in your pet's organs without requiring an incision. Blood tests and waste analysis are common services which allow vets to determine if your pet has an infection or if any abnormal substances are present. Kenneling and dog "day care" are becoming popular options as well as many vet clinics attempt to provide full service for pets.

Vets may also provide services for pets which cannot be saved by medicine. Many offer cremation services and a selection of urns for owners to choose from; some provide in-home euthanasia services for cats or dogs that are suffering and need to find relief.

Paying for your pet's care

Vets typically accept payment in all major forms - credit cards, debit cards, cash or personal check. Checks may only be accepted from known, repeat customers, especially as some services can be very expensive. For this reason, pet owners may also choose to purchase pet insurance, which covers more costly treatments once owners pay a deductible. While this insurance is rarely needed, a single large bill can often be enough to offset the monthly costs, though the worth of insurance varies significantly by provider.

Expect vet costs to break down two ways. First is the cost for the medication, immunization or surgery itself, and second is the cost for the vet's time. While some basic procedures can be performed by veterinary nurses, anything more complex will require the attention of a certified vet, which in turn will increase the price. There is wide variety in prices across states, cities and even between rural and urban areas. No standardization exists for price-setting, which means owners must be diligent to ensure they are not being gouged.

Beginning a relationship

Although veterinarians offer a large variety of services for pet owners, when you start your search for a vet, it's important to remember this is ultimately a relationship of trust. You need to feel comfortable with your vet. Your vet should understand that your pet is a family member and relate in a way that puts the animal - and you - at ease. A great vet doesn't just have a degree from a respected institution and no history of complaints lodged against her; a vet should be compassionate and kind.

Ideally, you'll be visiting the vet over the long term, and this means you need to develop a relationship of trust and respect. The right veterinary clinic provides a sense of familiar comfort for checkups and offers a haven in the event of more serious issues.

Comments

looking for a vet.

trying to find a vet that will accept titers rather than annual vaccinations

Looking for a very good vet in Colton California

I have a Love bird and I`m having a real problem trying to find anything on Love birds even on how to take care of wing problems. Our Love bird seems to be Losing her feathers and I can not find out how to treat it, so I was hopping that someone there could help me with this problem and thank you if you could give any information on the problem I`m having :).

Hello...I happen to see your post regarding the difficulty your having with your Lovebird. Well i thought i'd reach out and help if i could even though your post is rather "dated" at this point and that someone else could have helped you out already. Anyway i have 30yrs experience in the avian field dealing with both wild & exotic pet species. I've also worked with and owned a countless number of birds over the years including small to large parrots. And also offer private "behavioral consultations" for folks having an issues with there "fids". That's Aviculture language for "kids" just for the record...:) Anyway Lovebirds are more complex than people initially think. And most of the species follow the same behavior as each other the most common ones for sale being the; Peach-Faced, Masked, & Fischer's. The other two are extremely rare in captivity as pets. And those that do have them are usually experienced breeders or zoo facilities and they are the Nyasa & the Abyssinian Lovebirds. It's hard for me to give you advice without knowing what species of Lovebird you have and i dislike assuming until i know for sure. However, i feel compelled to help so i'll do my best and assume you have either a Masked or Peach-Faced. Both share many similarities with each other with the Peach-Faced being more common, somewhat larger, and more aggressive in nature. They myth about Lovebirds needing to have a companion in order to thrive is false. In fact, in order to develop any "human & bird bond" it's rather imperative that they be "THE ONLY" bird receiving your full attention. Without this they will ignore you completely and prefer the bond of another bird over you. They will not bond with other birds either as they are certainly not as "loving" as there name suggests. These little "pint-size" parrots can be EXTREMELY pugnacious even towards birds 2 or 3 times there size...!!! They have a hardened reputation for being "toe biters" and i have seen many Budgies & Cockatiels which are much larger with missing toes especially if they are in the company of other Lovebirds. They may be small but there beaks are HUGE for there size and can inflict serious serious damage on the birds i just mentioned. This is no joke when i say i've seen Macaw's "cower away" from this little feathered dragons...!!! But that's about the bad, the GOOD is that if you do develop a bond with these birds it will be VERY strong indeed. A lot can be said for taking the proper time in teaching your bird commands and socialization which ALL parrots MUST have. When i lecture i often tell folks if they cannot provide these things right from the get go then a bird is not the proper pet for them. Especially, when you get up into the larger species of parrots such as Amazon's, Cockatoo's, & Macaw's. To answer your question regarding why your Lovie is losing it's feathers could be a MYRIAD of things. The first that comes to mind right off the bat is "feather plucking" and if this is the case it's EXTREMELY difficult to break this nasty habit. Because it can be based on many factors; boredom, improper nutrition, or hygiene I.E. not receiving enough spray baths with water which is extremely important during the winter months when a birds plumage suffers the most because of the dry air. If your having problems with any of these areas i would recommend you visiting a qualified & certified AVIAN vet. Notice i stress "AVIAN" because they have the extra medical training and are specifically certified in dealing with bird related illnesses etc...Quite honestly, a "normal vet" does not have this "extra experience" and may in fact worsen the given problem rather than rectify it. As far as books are concerned i can't understand why you would be having such a hard time finding any literature on these birds as there are many out there. Even looking up specific problems over the internet on Lovebirds should answer most questions for you. I recommend two web forums for you to seek some advice from and they are the following; http://forums.avianavenue.com/index.php and http://www.parrotforums.com/lovebirds/ these should help you out tremendously with any questions or help that you need. I also feel you should do some reading up on these birds and parrots in general. And honestly i can't think of a better individual out there then Mattie Sue Athan who is a "parrot behavioralist". She has YEARS of experience dealing with exotic species and in my 30yrs the only other person i would recommend reading any material from is Barbara Heidenreich. Of course there are many other great authors out there. But these two women in my opinion "SHINE" when it comes to the beginner parrot enthusiast looking for sound advice. The first book i highly recommend reading is by Mattie Sue Athan titled; "Guide to a Well-Behaved Parrot" it covers just about EVERYTHING you'll encounter during your relationship with your bird. The other books by Barbara Heidenreich can be found on her website at this link; http://www.goodbirdinc.com/ and here is a specific "species link" on Lovebirds you might find interesting that will hopefully lead you to more information on Lovebirds. That weblink is the following; http://www.goodbirdinc.com/parrot-profiles-lovebird.html That all said, i wish you and your Lovie the best of luck and i hope my info has helped you out a bit. If you have any further questions don't hesitate to email me and i'll do my best to answer any questions you may have. As i'm always glad to help those folks out there who are seriously interested in learning more about these extremely intelligent, complex, yet beautiful animals. For when a genuine and strong bond is developed between a bird and there given caretaker there is no other human/pet bond quite like it....!!!

Regards, Tommy and my 6 "fids" below....:)

Keiko-IRN or Indian Ringneck Parakeet
Kiwi-Green-Cheek Conure
Kia-Senegal Parrot
Tasha-Crimson-Bellied Conure
Rupert-Alexandrine Parakeet
Skittles-Red-Bellied Parrot

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