You want to ensure that the vet you choose for your pet has the right qualifications to provide the best care possible. But, what veterinary qualifications should you be looking for?
Finding the Best Vet For You
Finding a new vet for your pet can be a cause of stress. There are many factors to keep in mind. Are the hospital hours convenient for your schedule? Will you have a good relationship with them? Beyond the practical aspects of choosing a vet, there are plenty of certifications a vet can hold. Here are a few of the most common and what they signify.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When looking for a vet, make sure you check that the veterinarian you're considering is licensed in the U.S. and your state. You might also want to look into whether other staff at the hospital and relicensed as well: like registered veterinary technicians. When you visit the vet's office, keep an eye out for displayed certifications. If you don't see any in the waiting room, you can ask to see their licenses. Alternatively, you can always get in touch with your state's board of veterinary medicine for more info.
Here are two certifications you should be looking for:
DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - This certification signifies that your vet is qualified to practice in the United States. Everyone who graduates from an American veterinary program receives a DVM (sometimes also called a VMD Degree). To practice in the U.S., a vet must have a DVM degree. This is the first marker that the person you are considering as your veterinarian is qualified to be one and to perform veterinary duties.
State Veterinary Licensing - Some states require this certification of their veterinarians, asking them to complete a state-specific examination. These tests usually ensure a vet knows a given state's regulations and laws concerning veterinary medicine. To maintain a state license for veterinary medicine, vets must enroll in continuing education and may need to regularly renew it (usually every 3 years).
Additional Veterinary Qualifications
If your pet requires health care beyond standard veterinary care, a vet with qualifications beyond the mandatory ones might be a good fit. Two of these certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians who receive ABVP certification (also called ABVP Diplomates), start with a standard DVM degree and then proceed to go beyond what is necessary to practice veterinary medicine. ABVP certification involved a difficult 3-year program of study and testing to become a board-certified specialist as recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). All of this hard work and training means that vets who are AVP Certified can offer specialized care for one or more categories of animals.
Fear-Free Certification - If your pet is anxious or particularly nervous, you might want to locate a Fear-Free Certified vet in your area. Fear-Free certification can refer to either your vet, another professional at their hospital, or the entire hospital. This certification signifies training veterinary professionals receive in methods of making pets more comfortable and relaxed in their offices during examinations and treatments.
Vets That May Require A Referral
Veterinary Specialists - A board-certified veterinary specialist is a vet who has completed additional training in a specific recognized specialty within veterinary medicine. They will have passed an examination that tests their knowledge and competencies in that specialty. If your pet is unwell, your regular vet may refer you to a veterinary specialist. There are 41 recognized specialties within veterinary medicine from behavior to veterinary dentistry. If your pet's health issue requires specialized equipment or expertise that your primary care vet doesn't have, they may refer you to a veterinary specialist. These veterinarians take pride in working with your primary care veterinarian to provide your pet with the best care they can receive.