Do Disabled Pets Need a Disability Specialist Vet?

Choosing the right veterinarian for dogs with no disability or special needs is hard enough. Finding a vet that specializes in treating disabled pets is probably going to be even harder. The question is whether it is necessary in the first place.

Generally, it isn’t. All licensed veterinarians are trained to deal with different types of disabilities. However, some vets do go through additional training and/or have more experience in caring for disabled pets. If you feel more confidence in bringing you disabled pet to a specialist, then do so by all means.

The important thing is finding the right vet for your pet.  How do we find the right one? Your pet might give you a lead on this based on how it relates to a particular vet. If this is not happening, you will have to do a little reconnaissance. Here are some things to look for when looking for the right veterinarian for your pet.

Access

Like with most things, location is very important, particularly for health services. You should check all vet offices near your location before going further out because sometimes time is of the essence.

You also need to assess how easy or hard it is to reach them when you have important questions that need immediate answers, and how they are quickly they respond to emergencies.

Most veterinarians will require you to bring your pet for a visit if you have concerns or questions about their health. Bringing a disabled pet to the clinic can usually be a major operation that takes a great deal of time and effort compared to other pets.

You want a vet that does telephone consultations, especially for situations where they can make a proper assessment without the need to see their patient. Having a veterinarian that trusts you as much as you trust them who is willing to call in prescriptions for your dog over the phone will be great for you and your disabled pet.

Having a veterinarian that you can easily call is great, but having one that does house calls is even better. Although not common, there are veterinarians that regularly do house calls. It is easier to find such veterinarians in rural areas where they also take care of farm animals. However, you might be able to find one in suburban or even metropolitan areas as well. Their services may cost a bit more than the usual but the convenience of having them visit you and your pet could be worth it.

Staff

Believe it or not, the staff of your veterinarian is almost as important as the veterinarian. Staff members are your first line of communication to the vet, and do the initial gathering of information about your pet. Well-trained staff will know how to do this properly so the vet will have all the pertinent information when you go in. This will help the vet give your pet the best care possible.

Additionally, the staff meets and greets new patients, so they need to be friendly and accommodating to put you and your pet at ease. Nothing is more comforting to a nervous pet than staff with a clear understanding of how to treat patients. It is also important that the staff remember you and your pet by name on subsequent visits, because this shows that they care and take their jobs seriously.

Adaptability

Most veterinarians deal with patients with varying issues and needs. What is important to look for is one that has the capacity to understand your pet and your situation and be able to adapt to it. Because your pet has a disability, this means there are certain activities that might be more difficult for you and your pet to perform compared to non-disabled counterparts. The need is not for special treatment, but better understanding of the differences in the situation.

Reputation

It is always a good idea to do your research on your vet to get the information you need to make a better choice. A referral is always a good place to start. If you have friends who also have disabled pets, find out where they go for medical service and get their feedback. You can also check online for reviews and discussions about vets in your area.

When trying out a new veterinary clinic, keep an open mind. Observe how they treat other visitors to the clinic, especially how they relate to the patients.

Do not be afraid to ask questions about the clinic and the veterinarian’s practice. Examples of good questions to ask are:

  • How long has the clinic been in operation?
  • Do they have other disabled pet patients? How many?
  • Is it okay to call the clinic/veterinarian for any questions?
  • Does the veterinarian do house calls?

The most important thing to observe is how the veterinarian relates to your pet and vice versa. If you see your pet responding very positively to your veterinarian then you’ve probably found the right one.

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