Along with the many joys of pet ownership also come many important responsibilities, including providing shelter, food, love, and health care for your pet. And while neither we nor our pets truly relish the idea of having to visit the veterinarian for shots and other medical care, the fact is that veterinary services–both preventative and emergency–are an absolutely necessary part of ensuring a pet’s good health. World Veterinary Day, celebrated this year on April 29th, is a chance to reflect upon just how veterinarians contribute to our animal companion’s health and welfare, and learn how to build a strong, happy relationship with them for our pet’s great benefit.

Building a Relationship With Your Pet’s Vet

Selecting your pet’s veterinarian should never be as simple as locating the closest and most convenient veterinary office. As this is the individual you will entrust with your pet’s lifelong health care, you absolutely have a right–and a responsibility–to be picky about choosing an individual whom you feel comfortable with. That said, it can be very helpful to receive recommendations from local animal shelters or adoption agencies, friends, family members or even neighbors. When you follow up on these recommendations by visiting a veterinarian’s office, you want to ensure that the office itself feels clean and accommodating and the staff friendly and that the veterinarian shares the same general approach to pet health care as you do. You want to openly discuss your needs, desires, and concerns with the veterinarian to see how they respond, and whether this is a relationship that you feel comfortable developing for the sake of your pet’s health and welfare. This open and honest communication is critical to your pet receiving the best care possible, and a good veterinarian encourages and welcomes it.

An important part of developing a strong, happy relationship with your pet’s veterinarian is by partaking of preventative veterinary care. If you take a moment to consider how you feel when your pet is experiencing a health or medical emergency it’s easy to understand that your emotional state will likely make it extremely difficult for you to establish or maintain a good relationship with the veterinarian. Preventative veterinary care is not only better for your pet, and less expensive for you, it offers you an opportunity to meet and work with the veterinarian when you can better discuss your pet’s overall health. Over time, these check-ups allow the veterinarian to get to know your pet, and you, much better, and they may be able to better spot health issues before they become major conditions.

Another important part of developing a strong, happy relationship with your pet’s veterinarian is by setting appropriate time-length appointments and being punctual to them. Veterinarians value your time and therefore work hard to stick to appointment times while also rendering the absolute best care possible to their patients. However, the fact is that some appointments run long unintentionally–perhaps because one pet’s condition needs more attention than was anticipated or because another pet’s owner has lots of questions. If you feel that you would like to spend more time talking with your pet’s veterinarian about health care concerns or other things, you should alert the office receptionist to this when setting your appointment so that a longer appointment slot can be carved out for you. If you are also punctual for this appointment, you will allow the veterinarian to spend the necessary time with you and your pet without making them feel rushed.

A strong, trusting relationship between you and your veterinarian is very important to both your pet’s health and well as your own peace of mind. Your pet’s veterinarian cares about your pet’s health and welfare just as much as you do, and just as you rely on them to help you with things that you do not understand or cannot do on your own, they rely on you to keep them well informed about your pet and what they need. Your veterinarian will get to know your pet very well over time and will give you the valuable advice and treatment you and your pet need in order to ensure your pet can live a long, healthy and happy life.