Kingstonist’s Wizard of Paws: Why you need a regular veterinarian

Ensuring your pet has it’s annual general check-up not only means your veterinarian will have a better working knowledge of your pet, but that you and your vet can rely on that knowledge in times of emergency, says Kingston veterinarian Dr. Ryan Llera. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko.

Veterinary medicine has never been busier in regards to taking care of animals and growing as a business (yes, it is a business) than over the past year. Currently, we are booking appointments three weeks ahead of time, and surgeries almost two months out. We do leave room for emergencies, but at the end of the day, there’s only so much that any one person or team of individuals can do. This is common amongst my colleagues at other vet hospitals (both locally and across the country), and so are the following points.

Many of the phone calls we’ve traditionally received at the clinics are coming from pet owners who have not taken their animal to see a veterinarian for quite a few years. But now, in the time of COVID, pet owners are home more often, and have the time or they are noticing more problems with their animals. Unfortunately, some of these problems have often been present for quite a bit longer than the pet owner may have initially thought.

As veterinarians, we encourage every pet to you have an annual exam. They may not need vaccinations every year, but they should still be seen so that we can have a baseline on their health, monitor for changes, and have a discussion on what you can do to help keep your pets healthy. Regrettably, what we are seeing now is that there is an over-abundance of need for care, but not enough time or veterinarian services to handle that – and this is seemingly the trend in many places, not just Kingston.

If you have a regular veterinarian and a good relationship with them, it can sometimes be easier for them to squeeze you in on an emergency basis. It’s not that we want to turn anyone away, it’s just that we physically cannot do any more without potentially compromising the health of those patients currently in our care. If we cannot see our regular clients because we are trying to squeeze in new ones, it complicates the care for some of our longer-term patients – patients that we already have a working knowledge of, and whose issues we are aware of, which makes things much easier and more straightforward than starting fresh at a new veterinary clinic. Going to a new clinic can be stressful for both you and the animals, as you already trust your family veterinarian. If a vet clinic has to start turning away their regular clients, people can get upset and angry. We are always willing to take on new patients, but remember, at some point we have limits, and getting seen in a timely manner could be challenging.

So if you haven’t already made that step, call a vet clinic and set up a visit for your pets, whether they are young or old. We can help to build a good foundation for the future. One of the best parts of the job is seeing puppies and kittens, and while it is sad to have to euthanize a pet, in the many years in between those two events, we often feel as though we are spending time with a family member, as we get to know these pets, even if we only see them once a year. By establishing that relationship, it can only benefit your pet.

If there’s something you’ve often wondered or questions you have about regarding pets, let us know by email at [email protected].

*Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.

Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with a cat, three dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can see what else he is up to on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion, and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.

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