What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You want to choose a vet with right qualifications to take care of your pet because you love your furry companion and want the best veterinary care for them. That's why our Novato vets share some of the qualifications you should look for when choosing a veterinarian. 

Choosing the Right Vet

It can be stressful finding a new veterinarian for your pet because there are so many things to take into consideration. Will you like the doctors? Do the hospital hours match your availability? However, beyond the day-to-day practicalities of selecting a vet, there is a range of qualification and certifications an individual veterinarian can have. Here we explain some of the most common certifications and what they mean. 

Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications

When searching for a vet, look to see if the veterinarian you are considering is licensed to practice in the U.S. and in your state. You might also what to take the time to learn if other people working in the hospital are licensed, such as registered veterinary technicians. Go to the vet's office and take a look around, if you don't see the certifications hanging in the reception area, ask to see their licenses or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information.

These are the two certifications you are looking for:

DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing that you need to check is if they are 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 veterinarians working in the U.S. must have a DVM degree. A DVM degree means that the person you are considering is 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 require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams usually test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. To keep a state veterinary license, vets must get continuing education and might have to renew their license on a regular basis (often every 3 years).

Additional Veterinary Qualifications

If your pet has specific health care requirements that are above and beyond standard veterinary care, you might want to consider 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 acquire knowledge and expertise beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates go through a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examination to become board certified specialists recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These veterinarians have put in lots of 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 might want to designate extra time to find a Fear-Free Certified veterinarian 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 sick, your regular veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine including behavior, ophthalmology, surgery and dentistry. You might 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 make sure your pet is given with the best possible care.

Our veterinarians at South Novato Animal Hospital are trained professionals that are driven to provide your pet with the highest quality of veterinary care. Contact us today to find out about our qualifications and the services we offer.