Your veterinarian can be your closest ally when it comes to keeping your dog healthy and safe. But just as some doctors are more knowledgeable or skilled than others, so are some vets. The best vets are partners in your dog’s care, not demigods to be obeyed. And the best vets will be the first to tell you that:

1) Most vets are generalists and lack the specialized training necessary to perform surgery, or to treat cancer and other major diseases.

Vets, like doctors, will give you their best guess when your dog has a complicated problem, but it’s your job to see that their education, certification and experience fit the job at hand. A trained expert may offer entirely different treatment options and have the special equipment necessary for optimum results. Good vets will suggest, rather than discourage, second opinions.

2) Most vets have little hands-on training in dental care.

Teeth cleaning is often performed by vet techs rather than vets themselves. The best vets make sure that both they, and their techs, have had substantial hands-on training and will have a specially-trained registered vet tech or anesthetist monitor anesthesia.

3) Pet food companies influence dietary recommendations.

Veterinarians, like doctors, learn relatively little about nutrition in school. What vets do learn can be heavily influenced by the pet food industry. The best vets study and experiment on their own. Those who haven’t may be unaware of the benefits of fresh and minimally processed foods. The best vets have asked themselves: if heavily processed foods are bad for people, how can they be good for dogs?

4) The majority of vet bills are preventable.

Canine victims of intestinal obstructions, accidental poisoning, car accidents, falls and predator attacks fill veterinary waiting rooms. Heartbreak (and big bills) also stem from diseases detected too late. The best vets will educate you about common accidents and in the early warning signs of cancer, diabetes and other major diseases. They will encourage a yearly check-up and blood test (twice yearly for older dogs).

5) You’ve probably been over-vaccinating.

The top immunologists and virtually all North American vet schools have recently changed their vaccine recommendations. No more one size fits all! Many common vaccines have been deemed unnecessary for most dogs. Vaccinating for multiple diseases at once can be as harmful as can giving even one shot to an ill or immune-compromised dog. Inappropriate vaccination can result in autoimmune dysfunction, allergies, tumors, organ damage and even death.

6) Your dog may sail through surgery but not survive recovery.

Many practices have too few trained assistants to watch your dog as she awakens from anesthesia and makes it through her first post-surgical night. Many have no one to offer after-hours advice once your dog comes home. YOU may not have the time and resources to provide optimum care through recovery and rehab. The best vets want you to take all factors into consideration when deciding on treatment options and practitioners.

7) The cure may be worse than the disease.

Surgical or pharmaceutical intervention to “fix” a condition may have common undesirable side effects that may be mentioned but not emphasized. There may be natural methods available that are just as effective and side-effect free—although your vet may not know them. The best vets encourage you to investigate alternatives before proceeding.

Author's Bio: 

Jan Rasmusen authored Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care, a comprehensive, fun-to-read book on holistic dog health and safety. Jan's book won national awards for the Best Health Care Book (of any kind) and Best Pet Care Book. Watch Jan's videos -- Avoiding Dangerous Vets and Stand Up to Your Vet -- at Jan's special web page: Read articles and sign up for her popular free e-newsletter and her information-packed blogs.