What qualifications should I look for in a vet?

Because you love your pet you want to make sure you put their healthcare in the right hands by choosing a vet with the right qualifications that meet your cat or dog's needs. Here, our Los Angeles veterinarians go into detail about these qualifications and what to look for.

Selecting the Right Vet for You

Finding a vet that meets the needs of you and your pet can be a trying task, due to all the factors you have to take into consideration. Will you like the vet? Are the office hours in line with your schedule? However, looking past the day-to-day practicalities of selecting a vet, there are a handful of certifications a vet can have. So, what are these certifications? Below are several of the most common.

Essential Veterinary Qualifications in the U.S.

When you are searching for a veterinarian, look to see if they are licensed to work in the U.S. and in your state. You should also designate time to find out if the other people working in the office are licensed as well, such as registered veterinary technicians. Pop into the vet's office and take a look around, if you don't see the certifications hanging in the reception area, simply ask to see their licenses or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information.

These 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, some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams typically test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. In order to maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license on a regular basis (often every 3 years).

Other 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) - Veterinarians who are ABVP Certified (ABVP Diplomates) begin with a DVM degree then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise 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 your pet is anxious or high-strung you might want to find a Fear-Free Certified veterinarian 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 veterinary professionals ways they can make pets feel more at ease in their offices and during their examinations and treatment. 

Vets That Might Require A Referral

Veterinary Specialists - A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian that has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and has passed an examination that tests their skills and knowledge in that specialty area. If your pet is unwell, your primary care vet might refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 distinct specialties within veterinary medicine ranging from behavior to ophthalmology and surgery to dentistry. You could be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your cat or dog's health condition requires specialized equipment and/or expertise that your regular veterinarian does not have. Veterinary specialists are proud to work with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best possible care.

Contact our Los Angeles vets today to ask about their qualifications or to book an appointment with our office.