What qualifies a veterinarian as being an exotic animal veterinarian? ( …as opposed to an exotic veterinarian.)
The best way to determine if a veterinarian is an exotic animal veterinarian is to… ask his colleagues. Simply claiming to be willing to care for birds and exotics is not a qualifier. Even the recommendations of local pet shops and breeders is not always reliable, since “arrangements” have been known to occur between vets and shops. VETERINARIANS WHO DON’T TREAT EXOTICS ARE THE BEST SOURCES OF INFORMATION FOR VETERINARIANS WHO DO TREAT EXOTICS. Veterinarians are usually very protective of their reputations, so they won’ t refer you to someone they don’t know to be qualified.
Now, what makes that individual qualified? Two things: continuing education and networking. Veterinarians are required to complete a certain number of courses throughout their career in order to maintain their license. Vets who frequently attend courses on exotic pets are generally more knowledgable. Networking does an even better job of keeping colleagues abreast of the most recent developments in exotic pet medicine. Did you know it takes an average of two years for a recent discovery to be published in a book or medical journal? Networking makes that information available almost immediately.
So, when looking for a good vet for your exotic pet… ask the vets in your area who DON’T work on exotics who they recommend. Then casually ask the doctor you choose to see when the last time was that he attended a meeting on the veterinary care of exotic pets. It’ll keep you- and the vet- on your toes.
Regarding the definition of an exotic veterinarian? Well, they’re all pretty exotic.