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What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

You love your pet, and you want to be confident that your vet possesses the appropriate qualifications to offer the level of care your animal needs. So, what certifications should you look for?

Choosing the right vet

Choosing a new vet for your animal can be stressful, there are so many things to consider. Will you like the person? Are the hospital hours in line with your availability? But beyond the day-to-day practicalities of choosing a vet, there are a number of certifications an individual vet can hold. So, what do those certifications mean? Here are a few of the most common.

Mandatory U.S. veterinary qualifications

When you are choosing a vet, you should be checking to make sure they are licensed in the U.S. and in your state. It may be a good idea to find out if other people working in the hospital — such as registered veterinary technicians — are licensed as well. Drop by the vet's office and take a look around. If you don't see their certifications hanging in the reception area, you can ask to see the licenses or you can contact your state board of veterinary medicine.

Here are the two certifications for which you should keep an eye out:

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD):  When a person graduates from a U.S. veterinary school, they receive a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree (sometimes called a VMD degree). All vets practicing in the U.S. must have a DVM degree because that degree signifies the person you are considering is a qualified veterinarian and is allowed to perform the duties of the profession.

State Veterinary licensing: Some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination to practice veterinary medicine. These exams typically test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations pertaining to veterinary medicine. To maintain a state veterinary license, vets must receive continuing education and may need to renew their license on a regular basis (often every 3 years).

Additional veterinary qualifications

If your pet has healthcare requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with specialized qualifications. Two such certifications are:

Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP): ABVP-certified vets (ABVP Diplomates) begin with a DVM degree before accruing knowledge and expertise beyond the basic requirements of practicing veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates undergo a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examinations to become board-certified specialists who are recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These vets have put in the hard work and training to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animals.

Fear-Free certification: If you have a pet that is high-strung or anxious, it's a good idea to seek out a vet with Fear-Free training. Fear-Free certification can apply to an individual vet, another veterinary professional within the hospital or even to the hospital itself. Fear-Free training teaches veterinary professions ways to make pets more at ease in their office and during their examinations and treatment. 

Vets that may require a referral

Veterinary Specialists: A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine. This vet has passed an examination that evaluates their knowledge and skills in that specialty area. If your pet is unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a specialist. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine that range from behavior and dentistry to ophthalmology and surgery. You may be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your pet's health issue requires unique equipment and/or expertise that your primary care veterinarian does not have. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.

Rockland Veterinary's veterinary professionals are dedicated to offering you and your pet the finest care in veterinary medicine. Contact us today to learn more about the qualifications of our vets and our range of services.

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At Rockland Veterinary we are passionate about animals and enjoy helping cats and dogs feel well. Contact our vets in Hudson Valley, North Rockland or Pomona today to schedule your furry companion's first appointment!