Whether you are buying your first horse or rekindling an earlier passion for horseback riding, choosing the right vet is absolutely essential. Horses are not just big dogs - they require specialized care, and specialized knowledge that not every veterinarian has.
Many veterinarians specialize in caring for large animals like cattle and horses. When searching for a vet for your horse, you should first narrow your search to vets who specialize in treating large animals. Once you have that list in your hand, you can use the following 6 tips to find the perfect doctor for your beloved riding companion.
Ask for Referrals
Asking for referrals is essential when looking for an equine veterinarian. Not all vets are equally skilled, and seeking out referrals is one of the best ways to determine which practitioners have the skills needed to care for your horse.
If you board your horse, talk to your fellow boarders and ask who they use for a vet. If you attend horse shows, ask your fellow competitors for recommendations and referrals. When you stop by the local tack shop or feed store, ask the staff and customers which local vets are the best.
Interview the Vet
Choosing a vet for your horse is a serious matter. Before you trust your horse to anyone, you need to interview that person and make sure they are a good fit. You do not want a difference of opinion or personality conflict to jeopardize the treatment of your horse, so take the interview process seriously.
If your horse has any specific medical needs or genetic issues, make sure the vet has experience treating them. Problems like laminitis, navicular disease, PSSM and HYPP require specialized care, and not all vets will have the experience necessary to adequately treat those conditions.
Investigate the Vet's History
Vets develop reputations just like doctors do, and investigating the vet's history can tell you a lot. Start by asking the veterinarian where he or she went to school, then research the reputation of the veterinary school and its alumni. You will also want to check for any complaints other clients may have filed and any disciplinary actions that may have been initiated.
The Internet makes this kind of research easier than ever before, but it can still take time and effort to make sure the vet you are considering is up to the task. Just remember that the health of your horse is on the line.
Take a Tour of the Facility
Touring the veterinary office is an important part of the process, even if the vet will be mostly treating your horse at the farm or boarding facility. You never know when you will need to take your pet to the office for x-rays or other diagnostic tests, and you want to make sure the facility has the state-of-the-art equipment needed to treat your animal.
Ask About Services and Prices
Owning a horse is not cheap, and neither is veterinary care. While you never want to choose a vet based on price alone, cost is definitely a consideration.
Ask about any specialized testing the office can provide - things like x-rays and in-home lab tests. Diagnostic testing has come a long way, and a good vet will be happy to show you around and discuss pricing for your animal.
Let Your Pet Interact with the Vet
You may be paying the bills, but your horse is the patient. Allow your pet to interact with the vet and see how they relate to one another. It is normal for a animal to be fearful in the vet's office, but your horse should not be terrified or uncomfortable.
Watch how the vet handles your horse and how he or she comforts the animal. A good vet can set a nervous pet's mind at ease and make the exam process more pleasant for both animal and owner.
Choosing the right vet for your pet is never easy, and it is important to do your homework and choose the best doctor for your animal. It might be tempting to pick the vet whose office is closest to your home, but the qualifications of the vet are far more important than the physical location of the office. Do your diligence, meet with the vet, and make sure you have confidence your choice. Your horse will be healthier and happier with a qualified (and owner approved) veterinary expert.