What exactly is a veterinarian?
A veterinarian is defined as someone qualified and authorized to practice veterinary medicine. They are medical doctors for animals, and have been trained to diagnose and treat disease and injuries in animals. They administer medication, devise treatments, vaccinate, perform surgery, advise on dieting, and provide general health care.
Veterinarians care for companion animals (dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, etc.), horses, production animals (pigs, cattle, sheep, etc.), aquatic animals, and even zoo animals. Different veterinarians may specialize in one area or another. For instance, one veterinarian may be an expert on bird health, while another may specialize in canines. Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian if they have a specific expertise.
What education does a veterinarian need?
Veterinarians must hold a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, or DVM, to practice as a veterinarian. This is equivalent to a PhD or MD degree, and requires at least four years of graduate school after four initial years of undergraduate coursework. Some veterinary degrees require six years at the university level, as well as more time in pre-veterinary education and clinical studies.
After completing their schooling, veterinarians must obtain a license to practice, which requires passing of certain tests and certifications. In addition, they must stay up-to-date on the latest veterinary information throughout their careers by reading the latest veterinary journals and attending seminars and conferences.
Feel free to ask your veterinarian about his or her education… they’ll be happy to tell you all about it!
Why do I even have to go to the veterinarian these days? Aren’t there other options?
Your pet is a member of your family, and in the same way you would never trust medical advice you get on the internet or from your best friend's sister, you also want to put something as important as this in the hands of true professionals—people who love and have dedicated their lives to helping animals!
Getting one wrong piece of "advice" from what you read on the internet or hear in passing can have terrible consequences, so developing a real and lasting relationship with your local veterinarian is one of the most important things you can do for your pet... and ultimately for you!
Since I should have an active relationship with a veterinary hospital, how can I choose the right one for my pet... and for me?
If you have pets, a relationship with a good veterinarian is key. Looking for certain things that are important to you, like convenience (what are their open hours?), reputation (are there others you know who have used their services or can you find any reviews about them online?), will go a long way to helping you choosing the right partner in your pet’s health.
Another component that is very useful in determining the value you might get out of your relationship with a local veterinary clinic is to look at outward signs that it is a quality practice filled with staff that will also cherish your beloved pet. For example, a practice’s website is always a good indicator of how much they are investing back into you; if it looks to be high quality, the team very likely is too!
How do I know if I am getting value from the relationship I have with my veterinarian?
A good veterinary practice should be aiming to meet your needs and to make your life—and that of your pet's—better and more complete. Besides getting good care when you bring your pet in, there are lots of other things a very motivated animal hospital could offer to you that makes the interaction that much more worthwhile.
Or, they may really go out of their way to make sure their website is a very useful tool for you, with built-in forms, maps, information, as well as other functionality, so that your experience with them is as good as it can be.
Good communication, treatment, and follow up is always very important too, so if you ever feel this is not at the level you would expect, most practices would love to get this feedback so they can continue to make improvements and be a real asset in your life. Take the time to address concerns with the practice manager or owner and chances are that the issue will be fixed!
Veterinary bills always seem so high. Is there a reason for this?
Consider this: most veterinarians and their staff are in their chosen field for one reason only—they love animals and have a real passion for taking them out of discomfort and keeping them strong and healthy.
It is true, however, that veterinary bills can sometimes come as a bit of a surprise to the pet owner, especially when you may only be seeking a small procedure or a routine check-up. But once you realize a few things about the level and type of service you are getting, the reason why this is the case becomes so much clearer.
For example, most veterinary practices are much more than that—they are actually self-contained hospitals, complete with surgical suites, exam rooms, labs, recovery areas, and so on. Covering costs to maintain such a facility means that across-the-board prices have to be at a certain level, otherwise it would not be possible to bring these extremely vital services to you and others in your community.
Is there some way to ensure my pet stays as healthy as (s)he can be, but still make it affordable in terms of vet visits?
The better care you take of your pet at home, the less money you’ll have to spend on visits to the vet’s office. By maintaining your pet’s health in terms of diet, weight, exercise, hygiene, and grooming, you will avoid the need to see a professional on a frequent basis. Obviously, you’ll want to bring your pet in for regular check-ups and to get the proper vaccinations and shots—ask your vet about spacing check-ups and vaccination visits out in order to ease the financial burden. And of course, in the event of an emergency, you’ll want to take your pet to the local veterinarian immediately. It is a good idea to have a “pet emergency fund” set up for such events—simply set aside $5 or $10 a week, and in a couple of months you’ll have a substantial reserve to draw from in case something unexpectedly happens to your pet.
Four Rivers Veterinary Center
1901 Commerce Dr
Vidalia, GA 30474
Four Rivers Veterinary Center - Baxley
1069 E Parker St
Baxley, GA 31513
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Mon-Fri: 8:00 am - 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm (walk-in only)
Mon-Fri: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.