Owners often ask how to tell a good vet from a bad one. All UK registered vets must meet the same high standards that are required to be a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the governing body of the veterinary profession.
The RCVS ensures that all vets who practise in the UK have completed an approved university degree course or passed rigorous additional exams. This means that all UK vets meet a high standard of veterinary training and care.
How do I choose a good vet?
You can choose a vet here or by visiting the RCVS ‘find a vet’ feature on their website (www.rcvs.org.uk). It is best to choose a practice that is close to you, so that you could get to the practice as quickly as possible in an emergency. You should also consider whether the practice provides its own out-of-hours service on-site, or whether it would be necessary to travel further afield for this service.
The RCVS has developed a voluntary Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) for vet practices to sign up to. To be given PSS accreditation they have to be inspected to ensure they meet high standards across many areas. Practices can also apply for different awards under the PSS. They usually display these awards in prominent places in the practice or on their website.
You can also find out whether the practice has any vets with particular areas of interest. Most vets are like your local GP doctor and see all types of animals who have all sorts of different conditions. Some vets may have developed areas of interest and further qualifications, such as in advanced surgery or in exotic species. You can ask the vet if they hold further qualifications. Specialist vets are more like human hospital consultants. They specialise in one area of expertise, such as dermatology (skin) or neurology (nervous system). You need to be referred by your regular vet, if your pet needs specialist care.
Will a vet put down a healthy dog?
A vet does not have to put a healthy pet to sleep unless it falls under a statutory obligation (including aggression). If you think your pet needs to be put down for any reason, even though they appear to be healthy, you should speak to a vet for advice and guidance about what options are available.
How do you thank your vet?
Vets love caring for your pets, and it is so rewarding to see a patient recover from an illness or injury. It is also a real privilege to be able to provide support and to be there for patients and their owners during the difficult times. That being said, a simple thank you can really brighten up a vet’s day. Vets are under a lot of pressure and responsibility, so hearing that they have helped make a difference will be really appreciated.
There is absolutely no expectation for anything further, but if you want to give your vet a small token then a card and/or something that can be shared with the team is wonderful. There are lots of other practice members helping behind the scene, such as the vet nurses and vet receptionists, so a box of biscuits or chocolates can be enjoyed by everyone.
Is it OK to change vets?
It's fine to change vet practices, although you will need to inform the old practice that you are moving and request that they send over medical notes to the new practice. If your pet has a long-term health problem, is in the middle of receiving treatment, or has recently had surgery, you should speak to the vet practice about how to make the transition smooth. If you are unhappy with the care provided by a practice, you can ask to speak to a practice manager to discuss your concerns. If the practice are able to address these, it can be better to keep your pet under their care to ensure consistent treatment.
Will vets transfer records?
A vet practice will happily send pet health/medical records to a different practice as long as you give them permission and, of course, you've let them know too.
Can you use more than one vet?
Do not use more than one vet practice. None of the practices will have a complete medical history for your pet, so the standard of care can be compromised. Each vet will also be unaware of any treatment performed at other practices.
The exceptions to this are to get a second opinion, or if you need emergency care while not in your local area. In the case of an emergency, contact the nearest vet practice. If you are able to do so, it's worth contacting your local clinic and asking them to send ahead your pet’s medical notes. For second opinions or referrals, it's best to organise these through your usual clinic.
How do you address an envelope to a vet?
To send a letter or document to a vet practice, you can usually find the practice address on their website. If you are unsure who to address the envelope to, you can contact the practice by phone.