The truth is that many people just choose a veterinarian or animal hospital by who’s in the neighborhood—are they close by? Can they see my pet soon?
But it’s important to do a little research before choosing a veterinarian! Luckily, the internet makes that fairly easy these days with online reviews and detailed websites. Still, there are some ways to determine what doctor and facility is going to provide your pet with the highest-quality care and the services you need while staying within your family’s budget.
Here is a simple checklist of 9 items to get you started on finding the best vet for you and your dog:
Word of Mouth
Ask for personal recommendations from family members and friends who have pets. They can advise about costs and customer service as well as actual veterinary care. Online reviews can be somewhat helpful, but you can likely get more information when asking someone you know about their experience.
Look for a vet that has expertise in treating the specific kind of pet you have. Feline friendly or even cats-only hospitals are becoming more common, and if you have a small mammal (rabbit, ferret, gerbil), a bird, or an exotic pet, you’ll want to make sure the vet has some experience treating those kinds of animals.
Take a look around the office. If the place is dirty and/or disorganized, it’s time to move on to a different hospital or clinic. Not only does an unsanitary office pose hazards to yourself and your pets, but a disorganized vet is also going to have problems finding your pet’s medical records and keeping up with their vaccination history and other crucial medical information.
Make sure the veterinarians themselves are licensed in your stateand that they also employ some licensed support staff such as veterinary technicians. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) has a free web tool that you can use to look up licensed veterinary personnel in your state.
How long are their wellness visits?
If you appreciate thorough explanations of what is ailing your pet, a hospital with 30-minute visits may be a better fit for you. By contrast, if you are looking to get in and out quickly, a vet with 15-minute appointment windows may be preferable.
Ask about the hospital and veterinarian’s approach to medicine, and make sure it aligns with your own. Some hospitals invest their energies in the latest technology while others are holistic or integrative, meshing conventional medicine with alternative treatments. And some of the best hospitals focus equally on prioritizing both! If nothing else this question can give you a good idea of what the vet is about and what they might be like to visit.
Location. Location. Location.
You may find a vet you love, but if he or she is more than an hour away, it may be difficult to get in to see them. This is going to be a problem if your pet has an emergency or needs urgent care. While you don’t want to prioritize location over quality, you do want to find a clinic that is near enough that you can get there in an emergency.
How do they handle the animals?
Many veterinary facilities now practice low-stress protocols and handling techniques to make vet visits less scary for pets. Some are even certified asfear-free, or have staff members who are trained in these methods. That’s always a good sign, as it can significantly reduce anxiety for your pet.
How did you feel about your 1st visit?
Did you and your pet have a good rapport with the doctor? Do you feel like he or she communicated well with you and answered all your questions? A positive relationship with your vet is going to be essential for ensuring that your pet gets what he or she needs over a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions—most vets appreciate a client who takes an interest in their pet’s care. If they don’t, seek out a new doctor.
And speaking of finding a new doctor, don’t ever be afraid to leave your current vet if you become concerned about the quality of care or customer service! Just make sure you get a copy of your pet’s medical records or have them transferred to your new vet before you go.
At Abingdon Square Vet, we believe in choosing a veterinarian whose personality and modalities are a good fit for both you and your pet. If you’re considering changing providers, please feel free to give us a call to learn more about our doctors and their individual approaches to animal wellness, as well as the wide array of services we offer. (Psst — while you’re at it, ask us about our $50 new client incentive!)
Be sure to become a Spotter for more tips on getting the best care for your pup.