You love your pet and want to be sure that the vet you choose has the right qualifications to provide the veterinary care that your animal needs. So, what qualifications should you look for?
Choosing the Right Vet
Choosing a new vet for your animal can be stressful since there are many things to consider, such as whether you like the veterinarian and if the hospital hours are 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 looking for a vet, check to make sure that the veterinarian you are considering is licensed in the U.S. and in your state. You may also want to take the time to find out if other people working in the hospital are licensed, such as registered veterinary technicians. Stop by 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. You can even contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information.
Here are the two certifications to keep an eye out for:
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM): 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 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM, which is sometimes called a VMD degree). All vets practicing in the U.S. must have a DVM degree and this degree confirms that the person you are considering is 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 as they pertain to 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 (usually every 3 years).
Additional Veterinary Qualifications
If your pet has healthcare requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to consider a vet with additional qualifications, 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 increase their knowledge and expertise beyond the requirements of a DVM degree. 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 you may want to take the extra time to locate a Fear-Free 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 veterinary professionals how to make pets more at ease during examinations and treatment.