You love your pet and want to make sure that the veterinarian you choose to care for them has the right qualifications for the job. But what qualifications should you be looking for?
Choosing the Right Vet
Selecting a new vet for your pet can be a stressful experience. There are so many different things for you to consider. Will you like this person? Are their business hours convenient for you? But beyond these day-to-day concerns, there are also a number of certifications and qualifications an individual vet can hold. But what do these certifications mean? Here are a few of the most common examples.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When searching for a vet, it's important to check and make sure that the veterinarian you are considering is licensed to practice in both the United States and in your specific state. You may want to take some time to find out if others working in the hospital are licensed too, like registered veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and take a look around. If you don't see any certificates hanging in the reception area, ask to see their licenses or contact your state's board of veterinary medicine for more information.
Here are the two certifications you are looking for:
DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing that you need to check is that your vet is qualified to practice in the U.S. When a person graduates from an American veterinary school they receive a DVM—Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (sometimes called a VMD degree). All vets practicing in the U.S. must have a DVM degree. A DVM degree means that the person you are considering is, in fact, a qualified veterinarian and is fully qualified to perform the duties of the profession.
State Veterinary Licensing - In order to practice veterinary medicine in some states, vets are required to pass a specific examination in addition to acquiring their degree. These exams will generally test a vet's knowledge of the laws and regulations governing veterinary practices in your state, In order to maintain a veterinary license, a vet may also need to renew their license every 3 years.
Additional Veterinary Qualifications
If your pet has health care requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two such certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - ABVP certified veterinarians (also called ABVP Diplomates) have completed their DVM degree and then go on to gain experience and knowledge well beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates undergo a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examination to become board certified specialists 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 you may want to take the extra time to locate a Fear-Free Certified vet in your area. Fear-Free certification can apply to an individual vet, another veterinary professional within the hospital, or even the hospital itself. Fear Free training teaches ways in which veterinary professionals can 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 and 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 veterinary specialist. There are 41 different veterinary specialties, from behavior to surgery and dentistry to ophthalmology. If you require specialized care or equipment to treat your pet, you may be referred to a veterinary specialist. Veterinary specialists take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care possible.