Third article from a column written by Wayne Capriotti on ‘owning a pet in Vietnam’ published in the Oi Vietnam magazine
In my last article I outlined three choices to consider in bringing a dog or cat into your home; either buy, adopt or foster. One other critical consideration is finding a good Veterinarian clinic offering an acceptable level of health care services for your pet, hopefully near your home. Selecting the right Veterinarian is a personal decision as you should be looking for a balance of trust in the doctor, good ‘bed side’ manner, experience, training and a well managed clinic. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task as the Veterinarian pet care service industry in Vietnam is still developing to international standards – the first consumer Vet clinic for small companion animals (pets) only opened in 2003. Further, there is no formal organization in Vietnam, like the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), that can guide you in selecting veterinary practices based on the quality of pet care services, facilities and personnel.
So, who do you talk to and where do you go to find a good Veterinarian in Vietnam?
First, contact friends or trusted neighbours that are current pet owners and have direct experience with a Vet clinic in Vietnam. However, the resulting discussions will invoke passionate debate about their credentials and you will encounter varying , conflicting opinions. Many controversial issues associated with a Vet clinic’s history in Vietnam are sometimes the results of a lack of understanding of preventive care by a pet owner in spotting signs of a major illness. It might have been too late as a pet was diagnosed as critical and died in the care of the Vet, or shortly after. The clinic is blamed. Get all the facts right before making judgment on any Veterinarians from peers, especially from what you read online.
You can also find suggestions at Facebook’s pet related groups and pages. The Dog-Owners in Saigon group is filled with ongoing discussions of Vets with details, so make a list of names and contact information. Also search Google for Expat in Vietnam websites (Expat Blog) using keywords ‘living with pets in Vietnam’. Another suggestion, contact members of any animal rescue organization in your area as they can introduce you to the Vets that manage their pets, as many have their own Facebook pages.
A reminder. You will encounter language issues as most clinics are managed by Vietnamese speaking Vets. Good, clear communication is key as you need to relate current problems of your pet and their history to a Vet for a good prognosis. For Expats, search for foreign managed Vet clinics that offer services in many languages.
One tip, with your short list of potential candidates, visit first without your pet. Ask Vets about their training, education and practice. While some will think this is intrusive others will welcome your questions. Ask for a tour to get an overall feel of the clinic, looking for order, cleanliness and proper management of personnel. Look for a well-stocked pet shop, as there is limited amounts of pet stores in Vietnam. Inquire about their customer service: what is their policy of answering the phone during business hours and after hours, and do they reply to your emails within a reasonable amount of time. Finally, ask if they have some form of ambulance for home ‘pick-up’ and does the Vet provide home visits, as most pet owners in Vietnam may not realize that dog thieves loiter around Vet clinics.
Overview of Veterinarian Pet Care Services in Vietnam
- Inexpensive compared to developed countries.
- Growing number of clinics managed by foreign Veterinarians
- Local pet owner’s level of pet healthcare understanding is improving creating demand for quality services.
- Growing international interests in improving Veterinarian education in Vietnam
- Quality of local trained Vets not at international standards
- Vast majority do not have a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) or equivalent
- Very few clinics have a ‘clean-room’ operating room
- Pets are not properly evaluated before anaesthesia and surgery
- Most clinics cannot provide overnight care
- Poor quality of advice on prevention; most are dispensers of medicines and vitamins
- Pain management and advice on-going personal pet care is non-existent
- Limited services outside the major cities of Saigon, Hanoi and Da Nang
- Limited ‘after hour’ or emergency services
- Poor customer service from clinic personnel
- Clinic personnel insensitivity issues in handling your pet (lack of training)
- Limited options available for pet insurance
Contact the author for his recommendations of good Veterinarians in Saigon, Hanoi and Da Nang.
First published in the September, 2015 Issue of Oi Vietnam magazine.