What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You love your pet and want to be sure that the vet you choose has the right qualifications to provide the veterinary care that your animal needs and deserves. So, what qualifications should you look for?

Choosing the Right Vet

Choosing a new vet for your companion animal can be stressful, there are so many things to consider. Will you like the person? Are the hospital hours in line with your availability? But beyond the day-to-day practicalities of choosing a vet, there are a number of certifications an individual vet can hold. So, what do those certifications or accreditations mean? Here are a few of the most common.

Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications

When you are looking for a veterinarian to care for your pet, check to make sure that the veterinarian you are considering is licensed in the U.S. and in your state. You may also what to take the time to find out if other people working in the hospital are licensed, such as registered veterinary technicians. Pop into the vet's office and take a look around, if you don't see the certifications hanging in the reception area, simply ask to see their licenses or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for 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 - In order to practice veterinary medicine, some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams typically test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. In order to maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license on a regular basis (often every 3 years).

Additional Veterinary Qualifications

If your pet has health care requirements beyond standard veterinary care, it may be a good idea 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 your pet 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 veterinary professionals ways to make pets more at ease in their office and during their examinations and treatment. 

Veterinary Specialists

Veterinary Specialists - A board-certified veterinary specialist is a vet 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 for more advanced diagnostics or treatment. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine ranging from behavior to ophthalmology and surgery to dentistry. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.

Raintree Veterinary Center's veterinary professionals are dedicated to providing you and your pet the very best standard of care in veterinary medicine. Contact us today to learn more about the qualifications of our vets and our range of services.