We frequently receive questions & comments from our clientele concerning their interactions with, and diagnoses by, their personal veterinarian. This isn’t because I am a more qualified veterinarian myself, but rather because I have over 20 years of personal experience solely with the Chow breed.
Veterinarians’ expertise may differ in many aspects:
General Personal Knowledge: Unfortunately, one sometimes encounters vets whom you find yourself questioning how they were able to graduate from vet school.
Specific Knowledge of the Breed: Veterinarians are unrealistically expected to have expertise with hundreds of dog breeds, as well as all other animal species!
Professionalism & Bedside Manners: Do they conduct themselves in a professional manner and display compassion for you and your Chow? Do they appear to like Chows?
Personal Experience: How long have they been in practice? What is their personal experience, specifically with the Chow breed, and are they aware of predisposed diseases & conditions?
I would recommend calling a veterinary clinic and tell them you are thinking about getting a Chow, to ascertain their reaction. If they try to talk you out of getting one, cross that clinic off your list! If the reception is good, then proceed by asking questions. For example, do they often treat Chows at their clinic. What is their protocol when you come in for an appointment? Do they allow you to remain with your Chow, or must you wait in the waiting room? Most adult Chows do not like to be put into a new situation where they are separated from the one person they trust. Do they require your dog be muzzled or sedated due to the breed? These are all things that happen in some clinics.
Once you have chosen a clinic, your work is not finished. When you first take your Chow to meet your new veterinary how are you received? Does he take his time before he attempts to touch your Chow? Does he first try to make friends with your Chow & let the Chow come to him? Knowledgeable vets know not to rush some breeds unless the dog approaches them.
Even after you have decided on your chosen vet, you should still be cautious. You are your Chow’s advocate. No one can do it like you can, so don’t be shy. If you disagree, or you don’t understand something, you are obligated to ask questions. You should never permit anyone to do anything to your Chow if you question what you are being told. Most treatments or surgeries do not require an immediate decision. Tell them you need to think it over, then do your own research & seek advice from people you trust and ask for their opinion. You should also be able to call your breeder and ask their opinion. A reasonable veterinary will understand this and allow you enough time. If they try to pressure you, it could be because they don’t like being questioned or they might have ulterior motives, like money! I hate to say it, but it sometimes happens. The professional ones will understand and tell me if they think there is any danger in waiting. You must do what you think is best for your Chow, based on what your vet has told you and from your own research.
There is nothing wrong with shopping around for a veterinary clinic. Their prices can vary exceedingly. Call and ask what they charge for an office visit and vaccinations such as rabies and Bordetella. This should give you a pretty good idea about the clinic. Although you aren’t necessarily searching for the cheapest, you don’t need a clinic that caters mostly to wealthy clientele. I always recommend checking on Angie’s List and Rover.com. The clinics usually have plenty of reviews available that will reveal much about the clinic veterinarians, but also their office staff. You will be dealing with the clinic staff as much, if not more than you will the doctors. Inquire from your colleagues where they take their pets. Also, ask how often they have used a particular vet. It does no good to get a recommendation about a vet that someone has only seen once or twice.
It isn’t always easy finding a “good” veterinary, who is also a “good fit”. It requires an effort on your part, but you will be much happier and your Chow will benefit immensely!