You love your pet and want to make sure that the vet you choose to care for them has the right qualifications to do so. So, what qualifications should you be looking for in your vet?
Choosing the Right Vet
Choosing a new vet for your beloved pet can be a stressful experience. There is a lot to consider: will you like them? Are their hospital hours a good fit with your schedule? Beyond these day to day concerns, there are also a number of different certifications a vet can hold. Which should you be looking out for, and what do they mean? Here are some of the most common ones.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When you are searching for a new vet, ensure that you check first and foremost whether or not the prospective vet is licensed to work in the U.S. and in your state. It would be worth your while to check and see if other staff in the hospital are licensed as well, like registered veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and take a look around. If you don't see their certifications hanging on their walls, you can always ask to see them. You can also contact your stat 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 you should check for is whether you vet is licensed to practice in the United States. When someone graduates form an American veterinary school, they receive a DVM degree. All vets who practice in the U.S. need a DVM degree. This certification means that the vet you are considering is indeed a fully qualified veterinarian and can perform the duties of their profession to a high standard.
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 above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want 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 you have a pet that 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 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 veterinary specialist is a board-certified veterinarian who has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and has passed an exam which evaluated their knowledge in that area. If your pet is particularly unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 different specialties within veterinary medicine which range from behavior to surgery, ophthalmology and dentistry. You may 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 provide your pet with the best care possible.