A simple guide to finding a guinea pig vet.
Here’s a scenario – you get home from work and you find one of your guinea pigs hunched in a corner, not eating and not wanting to move around. You know your pet is sick and needs to go to the vet, but you don’t know if there’s a vet that sees guinea pigs near you. What do you do?
You want to avoid this situation by being prepared and finding an exotic vet ahead of time. Today we are going to be talking about how to find the right exotic vet for your animals. Let’s get started!
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Do I Need a Guinea Pig Vet?
Part of being a responsible pet owner is understanding the reality that at some point your pets are going to need to see a vet. A common misconception with smaller exotic pets like guinea pigs, rabbits, mice, and hamsters is that because they are small and commonly sold in pet stores, they really aren’t going to need vet care. Or worse, that they’re not worth spending that kind of money on.
I very much disagree with this thinking, when bringing a new pet into your life you need to be prepared for ALL their care – and this includes vet care!
So, how do you go about finding the right vet for your pets?
Step #1: Research vets in your area.
The easiest way to do this is to google exotic vets in your area. Find a few vets that advertise services for exotic pets and see if you can find information on their website about what types of animals they treat.
Write out a list of four or five choices that say they see the type of pets you have. You can also call to check if they see your specific type of pet as well.
Step #2: Look for Reviews
Online reviews can tell you a lot about what type of service a vet’s office offers. Keep in mind that people generally only post reviews if they had a particularly good or particularly bad experience. However, if you’re seeing 50 reviews that all claim the same type of bad experience, that’s probably a pattern.
Try to find reviews on the vets you wrote down to get an idea of if they are a reputable and knowledgeable office. I also like to ask around to anyone I know in my local area that have the same types of animals that I do to see what vets they like and what their experiences have been.
Step #3: Narrow Your Options
So at this point, you have a list of a few vets that have pretty good reviews and regularly see the type of pets you own. The next step for me is usually to do some additional research on the vet themselves.
A lot of vet offices that see exotic pets only have one or two vets that see exotic animals part of the time. While this is fine, I like to know what kind of education and research these vets do on a regular basis. If a vet studied guinea pigs in vet school 15 years ago but hasn’t kept up on research or standards of care, that’s probably not someone I want to take my animals to.
A lot of vet offices have information or bios about the vets that work there on their website. I like to read through the bios on the exotic vets and see if it mentions continuing education or what research interests them. The vets office I’m currently using has information about each vets own pets, and several of them have the same animals as me, which makes me more confident in the services they provide.
If they also love guinea pigs, they’ll take even better care of my guinea pigs.
Step #4: Make an appointment.
The last thing I suggest doing is actually making an appointment and taking your pets in for a checkup or wellness exam. This usually isn’t too expensive depending on the number of pets you have, and it’s a great way to get a feel for the vet’s experience. If you get advice you know is incorrect or that makes you uncomfortable, then you can go back to your list and try someone else.
This is an important step in my opinion, because you don’t want to find out your vet is using outdated information during a sickness or emergency situation.
So, those are the four steps I followed to find the exotic vet that I use for my own animals!
Quick Tips for Finding a Guinea Pig Vet
A couple of final things I want to mention…
First, don’t be afraid to make it clear to the vet that you want what is best for your animals and that you want to make decisions based on tests and information. Some vets are used to people either agreeing with everything they recommend or refusing treatments because they are expensive.
Generally, I’m somewhere in the middle. I wouldn’t refuse treatment based on cost, but you are the advocate for your pet. If you feel a procedure is not in their best interest or might just be a way for a vet to make money, you are allowed to turn it down. Bring your own research to your vet and try to open more of a discussion. In my experience, the best vets will welcome this!
Second, part of being prepared for vet visits is planning ahead for the cost. Vet bills can get expensive pretty quickly, so make sure you’re saving up a vet fund to cover those costs. You can also look into pet insurance if the type of pet you have will qualify. How much you should save will depend on how many and what types of animals you have, but I’ll give you an example.
I currently have 7 guinea pigs, 3 rabbits, 2 rats, and a cat. In general, I keep about $1,000 set aside for vet bills at any given time. This number can totally depend on where you live and, again, what animals you have, but try to come up with a number you feel comfortable with and do what you can to get that money set aside before an emergency comes up.
Final Thoughts on Guinea Pig Vets
The most important quality when looking for a vet is being open to discussion. I want to work with a vet that will talk through their procedures and treatment plans. I want to discuss options and know why they are thinking what they’re thinking.
Find a vet that is willing to have a full-out discussion on your pet’s health with you, and not just tell you what medicine they want to give without talking through why with you. Again, you are the advocate for your pet’s health, so finding a vet that understands you want what is best for your pet and that you want to know the why and how is so important.