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How To Tell If You Have An Awesome Vet

Posted December 18, 2014 in My Dog's Veterinarian

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. Find him online at He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (

Dear reader, how would you describe your vet? Is (s)he good? excellent? Or awesome?

Let me share with you my top secret to judge how good a family vet is. To clarify, I am a surgeon. Family vets refer difficult surgery patients to me. So I have a somewhat unusual "system" to rate my beloved colleagues.

Cinnamon, a gorgeous 6-year old Golden retriever, had a "hot spot." His owner took him to his family vet, Dr. C. A hot spot is an area in the skin that a dog licks so feverishly, that it becomes hairless, raw, red, irritated and painful. It is so annoying that the poor dog becomes obsessed with the hot spot. Licking and chewing only make things worse.

But back to Cinnamon. Instead of simply sending him home with a prescription for cortisone cream and maybe antibiotics, Dr. C went on to perform a complete physical exam. There was nothing else to report... except for a small mass in the thyroid area. She doubled checked, but there was little doubt in her mind: Cinnamon most likely had a thyroid tumor.

She kindly referred the patient to me. We performed surgery to remove the mass... which the lab diagnosed as cancer. Clearly the hot spot was the least of his problems.Vet holding a cat But because his family vet found it so early, Cinnamon should logically do better than if the tumor had been found after growing for several weeks or even several months.

Thunder, an 8 year old German shepherd, was due for her "shots." To many pet owners and some vets, this may seem like a routine, boring, necessary evil... Once a year, the pet is schlepped to the vet. Pet hates car ride. Vet gives shots. Pet hates vet. Owner hates paying the bill. Nobody seems very happy here.

But Thunder's family vet, Dr. T, does not see the situation like that at all. He educates all of his clients so that they understand that the yearly vaccines are important, but the yearly physical is even more important.

Which is why Dr. T performs a thorough physical exam and comments on his findings out loud. "Wow, nice teeth. Looks like you're doing a great

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at, and follow him at