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Posted on 06-20-2017

One question that I sometimes get asked while working as an emergency veterinarian is, “Can you be my regular veterinarian?”.  While this is certainly flattering, I always tell people that you do not want an emergency vet taking care of your pet’s routine veterinary care or chronic health issues.  As an emergency vet, my job is to diagnose and treat medical emergencies as they come in the door – if your dog suddenly develops a twisted stomach or your male cat is unable to urinate, I’m the vet that you want to see.  But if your pet is due for vaccines or needs to lose weight or you can’t figure out why your dog is itchy all of the time, you should see your regular vet.  Here are some of the reasons why…

1) Emergency veterinary visits are more expensive

Because emergency hospitals need to be staffed 24 hours a day and have to be prepared for a variety of illnesses and injury, they are significantly more expensive to run.  This means that you will pay more for a visit to an emergency vet than you will pay for a visit to a regular vet. 

2) Regular veterinarians are equipped to deal with your pet’s routine veterinary care

Most emergency hospitals don’t even carry vaccines because animals should not receive vaccinations when they are sick.  Emergency vets do not routinely run the same tests as regular veterinarians (e.g. fecal exams, ear swabs) so they are not as skilled at interpreting these tests. 

3) Regular veterinarians have time to deal with chronic health issues

Regular vets have scheduled appointments – when you bring your pet in for his vaccines, your veterinarian has set aside time to speak with you about any concerns you have about your pet’s health.  At an emergency hospital, you may have to wait while sicker pets are being evaluated and treated, and when the vet eventually gets in to see your pet, they may have other sick animals waiting to be seen.  This means that an emergency vet often does not have time to speak with you about weight loss or why your cat is peeing outside the litterbox.  Its not that they don’t care, but they have to prioritize their time in order to treat the sickest of the sick.

4) Regular veterinarians know your pet

When you take your pet to the emergency hospital, you don’t know which veterinarian will be on duty to take care of them.  They likely do not know your pet’s medical history.  If your pet has a health issue that requires long-term care (e.g. diabetes, Cushing’s disease, etc), you want to see the same veterinarian every time so that care is consistent and subtle changes in their condition can be caught early.

Regular veterinarians exist to help keep your pets healthy.  They are extremely knowledgeable about common health issues like allergies and puppy care and obesity.  They can help you make important medical decisions because they know your pet and they know you.  Having a regular veterinarian who you can go to with questions about your pet’s health and well-being is one of the best things you can do to assure they live a long and happy life.  Freya is taking full advantage of her good health on this trip….the photo above was taken just before she decided to take a dip in Crescent Lake as we entered Olympic National Park.

Dr. Jesse Strong – currently in Washington

Follow me on Instagram @ramblingstrong for photos/inspiration

Check out my blog for general advice/tips about life on the road, camping, etc. at http://www.ramblingstrong.wordpress.com

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