Your dog is a member of the family, so choosing a veterinarian you can trust and connect with is important.
By Guest Blogger, Nicole McCray
Your vet will be someone you see regularly for your best buddy’s routine and preventive care, but you also need to be able to count on them if your dog develops an illness or some other health emergency. Spending some time researching the vets in your area just makes sense, and it’s the only way to be sure you’re choosing a clinic that works for you and your dog.
Whether there’s a new puppy in the family or you’ve recently moved, here are the top nine things you’ll want to consider when choosing a new veterinarian!
Think about what kind of care your dog needs.
Many vets specialize in caring for specific species, such as small animals, livestock, and exotics. If you’re working from a list of potential vets in your area, start by eliminating any that don’t specialize in small animal care (dogs and cats). Then, think about any special care requirements your dog might have. Will routine and emergency care be enough? Or, does your dog have a medical condition that requires specialized care?
There are lots of different types of veterinary practices to choose from. For example, some practices have several doctors on staff, so you know there will always be a qualified doctor available when you need them. Or, perhaps you prefer a clinic with just one or two doctors you can really get to know and establish a relationship with. If your pet doesn’t do well in the car, you might want to see if there’s a mobile vet in your area.
The type of medicine the doctor(s) practices should also weigh into your decision. While the vast majority of vets use modern medicine and a proven vaccine protocol, some specialize in holistic care using mainly herbs and other natural therapies. You’ll want to ensure that the type of practice you’re considering aligns with your priorities.
Consider the location.
No matter how wonderful the vet is, it’s not a good choice if it’s not reasonably accessible. Think about how long it would take you to get there if you had an emergency. Is there adequate parking available? Is there a safe place to take your dog for a potty break before and after your appointments?
Ask about their hours.
Don’t forget to ask about their hours, too. If you work from 9 to 5, you’ll want to make sure they have evening and weekend appointments available for routine care. And, keep in mind that dogs don’t always get sick when it’s convenient. How does the clinic handle after-hours emergencies? Will you have to find a separate emergency clinic if your dog needs care in the middle of the night, on a holiday, or over the weekend?
Verify the staff’s qualifications and accreditation.
Any veterinary clinic your considering should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA). You should also ensure that the doctor(s) have the proper qualifications and licenses. Veterinary technicians and nurses should also have sufficient training and experience.
One way to get a good idea of the overall work environment of a clinic is to ask how long qualified team members have been on staff. A high turnover rate or an inability to keep highly qualified people on staff could indicate poor management.
Find out what services are available.
Whether you’re visiting an animal hospital in NYC or you live in a tiny town, any practice you are considering should at least have the ability to run basic lab work, do x-rays, and have an onsite pharmacy. Or, maybe you would rather work with a full-service animal hospital that offers ultrasound, preventive dental care, surgery, overnight monitoring of critical care patients, and more. Be sure to ask about what equipment and services are available and make sure they have staff members with the proper training to use it.
Think about finances and pet insurance.
There’s no doubt that veterinary care can be expensive. Find out how the clinic’s pricing structure works. Do they have fixed prices for routine checkups, vaccines, and common procedures? Are they careful to provide accurate quotes before going ahead with treatment? And, if you have pet health insurance, don’t forget to ask if they accept the type of insurance you have.
Attentiveness from the doctors and staff is an essential part of a good experience for you and your dog. Not only that but if the doctor and staff aren’t focused on your dog, they may miss a developing health issue that could become serious before your pup’s next checkup. You also want to feel comfortable asking questions and voicing your concerns.
Try to visit the clinic before you make an appointment. Observe how the staff interacts with other clients and pets. Do they seem genuinely caring and concerned? Or, are they frazzled, overwhelmed, and rushed? You can learn a lot from the way the front desk team interacts with people and pets going in and out of the clinic. And, of course, the way they speak to you and answer your questions will tell you a lot as well.
What’s their reputation like?
There’s no better tool than the internet when it comes to choosing the best for your dog. Start by visiting the clinic’s website to get an idea of what their values are. Then, head over to their social media pages and read comments, reviews, and testimonials from their clients. Make sure they haven’t had a lot of complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and read reviews on websites like Yelp to see what people are saying.
And finally, ask people in your area about their experiences with the clinic. If you work with a pet sitter, trainer, or groomer in the area, they can be an excellent resource. But, don’t forget to ask your friends, family, or even people at the dog park for their opinions as well. Although no business can please everyone all the time, a large amount of negative opinions and reviews raises a red flag.
A Final Tip to Help You Choose the Right Vet for Your Dog
Although you can learn a lot through research and asking the right questions, you won’t know for sure that you’ve found the right vet until you make your first appointment. If the staff instills your trust and confidence and they do everything they can to put your pet at ease, then you’ve found the right place. If not, don’t hesitate to try a different clinic.