Transitioning into a new year rarely comes without change, and for some pet parents, that change could include figuring out how to change vets. If you're wondering, "is it bad to switch vets?" we're here to tell you, no, it's not, and that it's not as big of a deal as you might think, though the process can come with challenges.
If you genuinely feel you're not meshing with your pet's vet, it's crucial to know how to make the change. This article will discuss how to break up with your vet if and when the time comes and which signs indicate a parting of ways is necessary.
Knowing When it's Time to Part Ways
Breakups aren't easy, and veterinarians are not exempt from that rule, primarily regarding the vet-pet-parent relationship. People love their pets dearly, and challenges may arise when we feel our current veterinarian is not providing an adequate level of care.
Understanding the signs of a bad veterinarian will help point you to the path you should take and cast some light on your current situation. Here are a few ways to know it's time to switch vets.
Poor Communication Skills
Failure to answer questions in the exam room, via email, or over the phone is a major red flag. Also, if your vet blatantly disregards your pet-related concerns, it's time to make a change.
Lack of Attention to Detail
If you've noticed that your vet skips over exam steps, such as teeth evaluation or discussing necessary vaccinations or medications with you in detail, you will probably want to switch to someone new.
Poor Record Keeping
Few things are more frustrating than the need to refer to your pet's vet records to hear they're missing. Not filing medical records correctly lies on the shoulders of your veterinarian and those working the front and back of the clinic.
While it's normal for a vet clinic to smell like pets, visible dirt and grime are a no-no. From dirty examination tables and unwashed instruments to an unkempt waiting room, remember that anything that appears unsanitary probably is.
Refusal to Utilize Proper Safety Precautions
This warning sign can encompass many veterinary medicine components, but pet owners usually see it as neglecting to wear protective equipment when necessary. For example, attempting to clip a dog's nails with a bite history during nail clipping without a muzzle.
It may seem obvious, but you should never tolerate unwarranted rude or dismissive behavior from your veterinarian and those who work in their practice.
Unreasonable Fees or Pricing Practices
Sometimes unreasonable pricing is easy to spot, and sometimes it's not. If you feel as though your vet is overcharging for items like office visit fees or routine vaccinations, don't hesitate to contact other local practices to make comparisons.
Inadequate Follow-Up Care
If your pet requires follow-up care after treatment, your vet (no matter how busy) should contact you. When you're consistently trying to get them on the phone or schedule an appointment for a follow-up, it's time to consider how to change vets.
Sometimes, the signs of an incompetent veterinarian or a poorly run practice can be subtle. Trust your gut! If you think something is genuinely off, you're likely correct.
What You Should Expect from Your Vet
Every relationship has expectations, and as we move into a new year, let's set the bar higher for everyone, veterinarians included. The ideal veterinarian should provide you and your pet with compassionate, comprehensive care.
Your vet must know and have experience of the latest veterinary care practices and treatments. They should be patient and willing to answer your questions and address your concerns.
You should feel comfortable working together to create a treatment plan tailored to your pet's needs, to keep them healthy and comfortable. An ideal vet will be organized, friendly, approachable, and efficient.
A visible passion for their profession and pride in their work is a definite perk. Ultimately, the vet you choose must genuinely love animals and respect their owners.
Properly Transferring Vet Records
If your vet checks all the negative and very few positive boxes, it's time for a breakup. Luckily, you don't have to do this face-to-face, though you can if you feel it's necessary.
Meeting with your vet to discuss your reasons for leaving requires respect and honesty. You can clearly explain your reasons for wanting to break up and thank them for their service.
Be willing to listen to their thoughts and any potential solutions they may suggest. When the conversation has finished, thank your veterinarian for all their work.
Most people change vets by simply calling the front office, letting the receptionist know they've found a new vet, and asking for a transfer of records. Knowing how to transfer vet records is helpful, and you can do it in the following ways:
- Requesting physical records from your previous veterinarian: Many veterinarians will provide physical copies of pet records to a new veterinarian upon request. You can pick them up or have them mailed.
- Sending records electronically: Many veterinarians and veterinary practices can send copies of pet records electronically to you or your new vet.
- At Petfolk, you can upload your pet’s records into our system during the check-in process.
- Last but not least, if you don’t want to have the conversation with your past vet, Petfolk can reach out to your old veterinarian (as long as you provide their information) to retrieve your pet’s records, making it easier to switch.
Veterinarians cannot withhold records, as they are legally obligated to provide them upon request unless you've failed to pay your pet's medical bills. Always settle up before you break up!
Finding Your New Vet
After a successful breakup, you and your pet are ready to move on. There are many resources available for finding a new vet, including:
- Asking friends and family for referrals
- Looking at online reviews
- Asking your current vet for recommendations, which is a good option in some instances (a move, closure of practice)
- Utilize the power of the internet to discover local, reputable veterinarians
Keep in mind that changing vets isn't always smooth sailing. All veterinarians have varying approaches to caring for and interacting with pets and their owners. A sudden switch can be difficult for both the pet and the pet owner.
It may take time for your pets to acclimate to a new vet and their office procedures. Be patient, and remember you're doing the right thing for your pet!
A New Vet for the New Year
Breaking up with your vet isn't easy. Still, ensuring that your pet is getting the best care available is essential. If your current vet isn't meeting your needs or providing the level of service you expect, it's time to look for a new one.
Do your research, ask for recommendations, and look for a vet with both the experience and dedication you need for your pet's health.