What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You adore your pet and need to be sure beyond any doubt that you're choosing a vet with the right qualification to provide your companion the care they deserve. But what qualifications should you be looking for?

Choosing the Right Vet

It can be a challenge to chose a new vet because there are so many factors to consider. Will they be personable? Do the clinic hours work for my busy schedule? But beyond the typical everyday considerations, there are a number of certifications an individual vet can hold. But what do these certifications mean? Here are some of the common ones.

Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications

The best place to start is to make sure the vet you are considering is licensed in the U.S. and in your specific state. It is also good to look into the other people working in the clinic, for example, are there registered veterinary technicians on staff? Take a look around the waiting room and if you don't see the certifications, ask to see their license or contact your state's board of veterinary medicine.

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). In order to be a practicing veterinarian in the U.S. you must have a DVM degree. This certificate guarantees that the vet you are looking into is a licensed veterinarian and is fully qualified to adminsiter procedures on your pet.

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 specialized 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 taken the extra time and worked hard to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animlas.

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 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 unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine ranging from behavior to ophthalmology and surgery to 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.

Washington Dog and Cat Hospital's veterinary staff pride themselves in providing an outstanding level of care in veterinary medicine. Contact us to learn more about our qualifications and the services we offer.