Choosing a Vet

Written by Dr. Stanley Sohn

The subject of choosing a veterinarian to care for your animals is import to both the pet owner and the breeder. The focus of this article, however, is directed toward the breeder.

Choosing a veterinarian is one of the most crucial decisions to be made in a breeding program. It is every bit as important as choosing the proper stud dog for your bitch. A successful breeder looks at their relationship with their veterinarian as a partnership. It is through their combined resources that the breeder is most likely to produce genetically sound, healthy puppies. The veterinarian brings the medical expertise to the partnership, while the breeder brings the breed knowledge.

The first step in the process is to seek recommendations from other toy breeders as to the veterinarians they use. Remember, a veterinarian who is good with larger breeds may not be comfortable working with toy dogs.

After the breeder has obtained a few names, the next step is to contact the veterinarians and set up appointments to discuss mutual desires and concerns. You should expect to pay an office visit fee for the interview time. This meeting should cover everything the breeder is expecting of the veterinarian. Topics of discussion should include availability both during the day as well as after hours, surgical experience with toy dogs, experience of the nursing staff, how many other breeder clients the veterinarian has, and references provided. During this time a tour of the clinic should be done, and the breeder should inquire about the equipment available, the type of anesthesia used, the x-ray equipment, and the availability of ultrasound as well as the availability of specialists.

It’s an added benefit if the veterinarian is also a breeder, as this gives them insight into the concerns of fellow breeders. A breeder/veterinarian brings practical knowledge to the partnership, and has experienced the same dilemmas you might encounter.

Another thing the breeder needs to find out is if the veterinarian is willing to listen and learn. The veterinarian who thinks they know everything about every breed is not one to which you want to take your animals.

The final point to go over is the fees to be charged. You should get as complete a summary of usual fees as possible. Do not be afraid to ask about discounts or billing. The more you find out in advance, the fewer surprises there will be later.

The veterinarian will also have some questions for you as a prospective client/breeder. You will probably be asked how many dogs you have, how often you seek the services of a veterinarian, how many puppies you raise and sell, and how many referrals can be expected. Remember, the more new clients you refer to a veterinarian, the bigger the discount you can expect to receive. Don’t forget that the breeder and the veterinarian are a team, and it is critical each knows what is expected by the other for this to be a productive collaboration.

After selecting a veterinarian and developing a good rapport with them, the breeder should consider their veterinarian as another source from which they can learn. The veterinarian can offer information and resources which will be beneficial to the breeder. One of these resources would be the veterinarian’s library. Here the breeder may find lots of useful information about subjects of interest and concern. Areas to explore are breeding and appropriate testing, care of the neonate and the dam, raising puppies, vaccinations, and nutrition and genetic screening, just to name a few.

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