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.