The average veterinarian has spent eight years learning, studying, and practicing to earn the title of DVM, or “doctor of veterinary medicine.” A veterinary specialist such as a surgeon or pathologist has spent a decade or more earning his or her title. In veterinary school, they have learned how to care for large and small animals, household pets and aquatic creatures, zoo animals and farm animals. As Dr. Jim Carlson says, "That's unique to our profession, because we come out (of vet school) having a basic knowledge of all animals, from ants to elephants." Also unique to their profession is the ability to communicate with humans and animals. These are men and women who are proficient in relating to an animal’s owner, but who also act as detectives while they evaluate patients who cannot tell them where it hurts.
In honor of the veterinarians who love and care for our pets, we will celebrate World Veterinary Day on April 24 this year. Below are some ways you can show your appreciation for your pet’s doctor.
Write a thank-you note.
This one costs you nothing but your time and 55 cents for a stamp. And who doesn’t love to get mail? Be specific in your note, thanking your veterinarian and their assistants for the time they spend keeping your pet healthy. From administering vaccines to diagnosing infections to reminding you about upcoming appointments, they are a large part of the reason your pet is living his best life.
Donate to an animal shelter in your vet’s name
This is a fantastic way to show you support the good work of veterinarians who volunteer to help animals in need. Shelters rely on donations to care for lost or abandoned animals. Many partner with veterinarians in the community who work for the shelter on a part-time or voluntary basis. Some shelters provide low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations, and some also offer wellness and emergency services. Giving a one-time or recurring donation to a shelter can help them continue to provide these services, as well as support the veterinarians who graciously give of their time and resources.
Sing your vet’s praises to others!
A friend of mine recently asked who we used as a primary vet for our golden retriever, Hattie. I was happy to tell her how much we love our vet, and how well-cared-for she is there. When our previous golden passed away, we received a handwritten sympathy card and sweet picture book telling the story of Elfie, a dachshund who grows up with her “human brother,” playing and exploring. Every night he tells Elfie how much he loves her. The tender story was a reminder of how our dog knew of our love and was resting easy now. Their recognition of our pain in losing our pet was a comfort during that tough time. We recommend our veterinarian to anyone looking for a doctor who will love their pets like family.
Be on time for appointments.
Your vet wants to be able to help as many pets as possible, and that means sticking to a schedule. You can help your pet’s doctor be as efficient as possible by arriving 5-10 minutes early for appointments, and bringing documentation or requested samples. Our vet likes us to bring a stool sample to appointments, so I write in my calendar to bag and keep her feces from our walk that morning. If you have seen another vet previously, it is important to provide a copy of vaccinations. If you can be flexible, avoid making appointments after 5:00 pm, or on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings. These are typically the times vet offices are overloaded with last-minute appointments and emergencies.
Enroll in pet insurance!
Speaking of emergencies, did you know pet owners can contact the PetPartners 24/7 Vet Helpline for answers to their pet health questions? Veterinary professionals will be able to advise on whether your pet’s symptoms require a trip to the vet or emergency attention. Enrolling in pet insurance can help you rest easy, knowing you will not have to wait for your vet to open on Monday morning to seek help. Depending on the plan you select, pet insurance may cover all or some accidents, illnesses, hereditary conditions, and routine/preventative care. When you have financial help in paying your vet bills, it can take money out of the equation when deciding on whether to treat. Your vet will be thankful that you can do what is recommended without the burden of a big medical bill.
How will you honor the person who loves your pet (almost) as much as you do? Try one or all of our suggestions and let us know how it goes!