What Makes a Great Mobile Veterinarian?

What could be more convenient than being able to skip your pet's discomfort in a veterinarian's office? Other dogs (including yours, the pet owner) can be hostile, friendly or in heat. There may be nonstop barking. There are long waits. And if your pet needs to relieve itself, there's the matter of giving up your seat and strolling around outside, hoping for dear life that you don't lose your spot in line.

With dogs that only go to the veterinarian every blue moon, this may not be as big of a deal. However, for older dogs who may not be able to commute as easily in automobiles or those who are seriously ill, traveling to a veterinarian will become a bigger issue. This is a good time to shop around for mobile veterinarians.

Here are tips to finding the best mobile veterinarian that works for your needs.

1. Verify acceptable payment for pet health expenses

While the odds are slim to none that a pet professional would not accept a variety of payments, it's not impossible. Always ask beforehand about what forms of credit cards, insurance (if applicable) and payment plans the mobile veterinarian accepts. Just as not all independent doctors' offices or hospitals don't take health credit cards (ex. CareCredit), not all mobile veterinarians are as financially flexible. While one may be receptive to PayPal online payments, another may flat out refuse any kind of online purchases. Even with the best of the bunch, if the veterinarian is unaffordable, there's no point in proceeding further.

2. Have a backup plan, an alternate plan for pet health insurance

A quality pet insurance company will cover injuries (broken bones, bite wounds); swallowed objects; infections (ears, stomach); cancer; hereditary and congenital pet conditions; behavioral issues (training); annual exams; and vaccinations. Unfortunately for most pet owners, they may find that pet insurance does not cover all expenses, so they're stuck with most or all of the remaining bill. Similar to auto or rental insurance, the pet owner will stick have to pay an upfront deductible no matter what. And if the pet owner is not financially prepared for that decision, other payment options must come into play. Look into pet insurance credit options to help with deductibles and even the entire cost of the procedure.

3. Make sure the mobile veterinarian can travel to your location

If a mobile veterinarian will only come to a pet owner's residence for regular preventative care (ex. vaccinations, grooming) but not bigger incidents, it may just be easier to go to a larger facility that handles everything at the same time. The whole idea of a mobile veterinarian is to relieve the pet owner and the pet of the commute back and forth to health facilities. Research what types of services a potential mobile veterinarian will not come out for.

4. Calculate the travel rates

Of course, a pet owner should expect to pay commute rates for the mobile veterinarian to come back and forth with supplies. The further the travel, the more the pet owner may pay. However, make sure those rates aren't so exorbitant that it may be easier to just purchase quality carriers or harnesses than for the vet travel expenses to be as much as the services.

5. Make sure the pet likes the veterinarian

Any pet owner who has seen their pets completely lose their minds around a veterinarian knows how long that vet visit can be. Sedating a pet to get it to behave should not be the go-to for even the simplest procedure, especially if the pet acts drastically different around one veterinarian than the other. A simple glance at Pinterest or Instagram has plenty of creative artwork with sayings like, "If our dog doesn't like you, we probably won't either." There are people who despise going to doctors' offices for shots and exams. But if the dog seems to specifically not like the veterinarian more than the procedure — or is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde depending on pet professionals completely the same task — it's possible that that mobile veterinarian just isn't the right one for that pet.

6. Ask about mobile veterinarian's experience with chronic disease management

For older dogs who have Addison’s disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, liver disease or any other high-risk chronic disease, working with a mobile veterinarian who has been properly trained is imperative. Hiring a mobile veterinarian who has on-the-job training is even better. Unlike human job interviews, there are very little cons of being "overqualified" in the pet professional industry.

7. Become familiar with mobile veterinarian's availability

For pet owners who work full time, evenings and weekends are the ideal times to stay home long enough for mobile veterinarians to come by. If the vet can only show up during working hours and the pet requires regular care, scheduling can become a problem. Consider other ways of communication if the vet is really a great worker. Maybe some health care options can be done via computer (Skype exams), email, text or phones. Even if the mobile veterinarian only works during business hours, if this person is flexible enough to provide health care even if he or she cannot physically make it to the pet's home, that could be a happy medium.

8. Request a mobile veterinarian who is passionate about wellness exams and nutrition

Just as there are human doctors who seem more interested in prescribing medication or shots, the same can be said for veterinarians. Make sure the mobile veterinarian is passionate about preventative care. An ideal professional would be savvy in keeping pets naturally healthy through food, fitness and regular grooming as opposed to waiting until the going gets too tough.

As long as the pet owner is patient enough to approach veterinarian shopping the same way he or she would for a human doctor, finding a mobile veterinarian should be simple enough. There may be a few trial runs before hiring the perfect person (or team). But as long as the pet is taken care of, it's a win-win-win for all three parties.

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