When you call or visit your veterinarian, you can expect to be asked for information about your animal and details of its medical history, especially if this is your first contact with that particular vet.

You can expect to receive a fairly accurate estimate of costs for routine procedures such as vaccinations and sterilisation. If the situation is more complex, it may be harder to estimate what the final cost will be. Remember that as your vet progress with a patient, the diagnosis, prognosis and costs may change. It is vital you bring costs up even if your vet doesn’t.

Veterinary hospitals have a wide range of equipment on-site, and usually offer all the necessary diagnostic tests and treatments in one place. If there’s a serious problem, your vet might recommend a visit to a veterinary specialist who has particular expertise.

Develop a relationship with your vet and remember that you are free to get a second and even a third opinion if you are not entirely satisfied with your vet.

It’s important that pets have regular health checks at the vet. Dogs and cats age much more quickly than humans, and it’s important to catch problems early if you want to ensure a long and happy life for your companion animal..

Because pets age so rapidly, major health changes can occur in a short amount of time. Minor problems can often go unnoticed at home, until they become more serious. Most problems can be treated more successfully (and more cheaply) if they are recognised early. The risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other serious conditions all increase with your pet’s age. Annual health checks can help your veterinarians diagnose, treat or even prevent problems before they become life-threatening.

Your vet will:

• Check for early signs of disease.
• Make sure teeth, skin, eyes and ears are healthy
• Update life-saving vaccinations

The examination will generally cover the following areas:

• Teeth & mouth
• eyes
• ears

How can a consumer tell if their vet is reliable?

Consumers must make sure that their veterinarian is registered with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC).

The SAVC is the regulatory body for the veterinary and para-veterinary professions in South Africa and has a statutory duty to determine scientific and ethical standards of professional conduct and education.

To keep their registration up to date, vets have to take advantage of continuing education programs to keep up on the latest techniques and research, which is important for your pet’s health and treatment.

Is your vet a member of the SAVA?

The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) is a voluntary professional association of veterinarians in South Africa. The SAVA is committed to upholding the highest professional and scientific standards, and to utilising the professional knowledge, skill and resources of our members, to foster close ties with the community and thus promote the health and welfare of animals and mankind.

What governing bodies should a reputable vet should belong to?

No person may practise a veterinary profession unless the person is registered with the SAVC or authorised to perform specific procedures.

What are the dangers of not using the services of a reputable vet?

What to expect when visiting a reputable vet:

When you call or visit your veterinarian, you can expect to be asked for information about your animal and details of its medical history, especially if this is your first contact with that particular vet. The veterinary professional shall maintain records for each animal or group of animals which are legible, accurate and permit prompt retrieval of information.

You can expect to receive a fairly accurate estimate of costs for routine procedures such as vaccinations and sterilisation. If the situation is more complex, it may be harder to estimate what the ultimate cost will be. Your vet will give you an idea, though, and keep you informed as the diagnosis and treatment proceed.

Unlike your local doctor, veterinary hospitals have a wide range of equipment on-site, and usually offer all the necessary diagnostic tests and treatments in one place. If there’s a serious problem, your vet might recommend a visit to a veterinary specialist who has particular expertise.

You can also receive prescription medication for your animal from your vet, along with helpful advice about how best to take care of your animal – feeding, socialising, exercise and training.

What is your advice when consumers seek the services of a vet?

It’s very important that you find a vet and establish a good ongoing relationship to get the best treatment for your pet.  You should feel comfortable with the way the vet is handling your animal.

Do you have any additional information to include that consumers should know about vets?

The veterinary profession in South Africa is a learned and honourable profession and veterinarians and veterinary specialists are expected to at all time act in such a manner as to maintain and promote the prestige, honour, dignity and interests of the profession.  The profession serves the public and the interests of their animals in the light of the latest scientific knowledge.