The selection of the First Family-elect’s new canine addition has created much excitement and media buzz. Reporters and bloggers speculate daily on the type of dog the Obamas may choose when they move into their new abode in January.
In the days ahead, the President-elect’s abilities as statesman will surely be tested as he makes tough decisions about the economy, healthcare, and conflicts abroad. But what will require an equal amount of detente is the final decision about which new puppy his family will select.
Like anyone making an important choice, discussion and compromise will surely be required. First daughter-elect Malia has expressed her opinion in favor of a Goldendoodle (a hybrid of the Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle), while President-elect Obama is leaning toward “a mutt like me.”
We at The Animal Medical Center are aware that choosing the perfect dog is only the beginning. Equally as important as their choice of pedigree will be the selection of their new pet’s veterinarian. Even though the Obamas may need to compromise on which dog they choose, they should not compromise on their new pet’s veterinary care.
The Obamas are no different than any American family in this regard. Because our pets are members of our families, keeping them healthy is a priority. Veterinarians can be our partners in helping each of us keep our pets in top physical condition — leading to longer, better quality lives both for the animals and for us.
The Animal Medical Center recommends that every dog or cat owner consider these important tips when selecting a veterinarian:
- Identify your veterinarian before you get your pet. Your new puppy or kitten should see a veterinarian as soon as possible, preferably within the first few days after arriving in its new home.
- Do your homework. Talk to your friends about the veterinarians they use. Check out the Web sites of several different veterinary clinics. This will give you information about hours and services to help you determine if you will be able to schedule routine appointments conveniently. Web sites usually give information about access to emergency services, which need to be readily accessible.
- Choose a vet in a convenient location. If you are lucky, you can find a high-quality veterinarian in your neighborhood. Like babies, new puppies or kittens need frequent veterinarian visits until they are about 1 year of age.
- Listen for good communication skills. Although the comforting presence of a gray-haired family physician (à la Marcus Welby, MD) has its appeal, there is more than just experience to be considered when choosing a veterinarian — such as his or her ability to explain your pet’s diagnosis or an upcoming procedure.
- Referral to specialists. A good veterinarian knows his or her limits and when to refer a problem to a specialist. Find out how your veterinarian makes referrals to a specialist and for what conditions.
- Talk to your children about what to expect on a visit to the veterinarian. If you plan on bringing your children with you when you take your pet to the vet, spend some time preparing them. Puppies can be stubborn and determined to have their own way. Puppy-style tantrums occur during nail-trimming, dental examinations, and the taking of body temperature. Squealing, yelping, and howling by the puppy are common during routine vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases, and may upset unprepared children. After a visit to a veterinary clinic, puppies are typically very tired and should be allowed to rest for a few hours.
- Get a book. Head for the library and check out some of the many wonderful books written about caring for a new pet.