Finding a Good Small Animal Vet

Many of us have a vet who is excellent with a cat or dog, but when it comes to your other smaller, less ‘common’ pets such as a rat or a guinea, you could feel that your vet isn’t as full on with your furry friend as he or she can be.

You cannot blame your vet – they cannot know everything about every species – or they may have a real aversion to your beloved pet! (A ratty loving friend took her rat to her normal vet and he was scared stiff!)

So, how do you go about finding a vet who is good with small animals?

Of course, the best time to research vets is before your pet gets ill – or even before you get your pet. Never try and ‘wing it’, hoping that your furry will never fall ill. If you get to the stage where your pet is ill and you consult an inexperienced or unhelpful vet, then sadly it could be fatal for your pet.

First of all, check out your local/usual vet. Ask if any of the vets there have a special interest in your species of animal and, if so, ask for an initial chat and take your pet along. That way you can see how the vet reacts to your pet – does he or she pick up your rat and kiss him on the head or does the vet keep their instance and only handle your rat if forced to?

How do the veterinary staff react to your pet too? Do they play with him or are they standoffish? You need to feel confident that should your pet need to be treated at the practice that you’d feel happy leaving him there.

Ask the vet the following questions:

  • How often do you see rats/guinea pigs etc at your practice?
  • How would you administer baytril – an antibiotic – to a rat/GP etc? (the answer should be orally in their food or direct into their mouth. If the vet says ‘in their water bottle’ try elsewhere)
  • How often do you operate on small furries and what anaesthetic do you use? (should be isofluorane gas)
  • What operations have you done on small furries recently? (likely to include lump removal, castration, lancing of abscesses, possibly spay or caesarean)
  • What is the success rate for these procedures?
  • What colour should a healthy rats’ teeth be? (orange)

If you are comfortable with the vet, see how receptive they are to new ideas. Luckily for us all of our vets are willing to do research or look at information we’ve found on the internet when something unusual crops up with one of our rats.

If you are unlucky to come across the small minority of vets that have ego problems – ie they dismiss your ideas and suggestions as they know best – then it would be best not to use them unless you are willing to stand up to them.

If you still don’t have any luck finding a vet you feel happy with, then you can also ask around for a small-animal friendly vet. Use online forums as these are always a good place to start – many have a ‘Recommended Vets’ section – or contact a breeder or a rescue near to you and see who they use.

Keep plugging at finding a vet – eventually you’ll find one you like and trust. And hopefully, one you won’t have to use very often.