Like deciding to bring home a new pet, choosing a vet is not a decision to be made lightly.
Ideally, you should choose your preferred veterinarian before bringing home your new dog or cat. If that’s not the case, though, be sure to do your research sooner rather than later. You certainly don’t want to wait until your furry friend is sick or injured to figure out where you need to go!
Keep reading for some expert tips on choosing the right vet for your pet.
How to Find a Vet
Whether you’re a first-time pet parent or seasoned pet owner thinking about switching to a new vet, you’ll want to be intentional about how you go about the search process.
Keep your pet’s age, breed, and specific health concerns in mind, as different vets have different areas of expertise. If you’ve adopted a senior, for example, you’ll want to be sure that the vet you choose is willing and able to give your elderly doggo the attention he deserves.
A personal referral says a lot, so it’s always a good idea to start with recommendations from people you trust. Ask around, talking to:
- Neighbors, friends, and family members with pets
- Breeders or breed club members who may have an inside scoop on caring for your breed
- Professional groomers
- Local shelters
You can also conduct an online search. If you go that route, take the time to do thorough research on the facility and its credentials. Read reviews, taking note of how/if any negative comments were addressed.
Keep in mind that different pets have different needs, so take every recommendation with a grain of salt and be ready to ask your own questions to ensure the vet is a good fit for your pet.
Qualities of a Good Vet
Your priorities may differ from your friends and neighbors, but ultimately it’s important to find a veterinarian that shows evidence of high-quality care.
- Good reputation
- Clean, organized office
- Good bedside manner with pets AND owners
- In-house services, such as X-rays or blood tests
- Expertise in working with your pet—if they specialize in cat care, it’s probably not the best fit for a dog.
Compatible values are important, too. Some areas you may want to look into include:
- Holistic or alternative care options
- Senior care options
- Their stance on issues such as euthanasia, spaying & neutering, and declawing cats
- Whether they support animal welfare organizations
Questions to Ask a New Vet
When you bring your pet to a new vet, you want to know exactly what to expect. If possible, take a tour of the facility without your cat or dog; if they don’t allow tours, it’s worth exploring whether that’s a red flag.
Whether you’re looking online or talking directly with a staff member, find out the answers to the following questions:
- What services do they provide?
- Do they refer to specialists as needed?
- What are their hours of operation? Do they provide emergency coverage after hours, or will they recommend you to an emergency care facility if needed?
- What is the average wait time for scheduling a non-emergency appointment?
- What are the fees, costs of procedures, and payment methods?
- Do they accept pet insurance, and/or will they provide you with the information you need to process any claims?
- How do they monitor pets who stay overnight?
- How many veterinarians and technicians are on staff? Is it possible to request a specific vet? Ask about training, backgrounds, and accreditation, too.
Do some observing, too:
When you go in with your pet, do they try to help him feel safe and comfortable? Some initial discomfort is normal, but sometimes signs of fear and distress can be a red flag worth paying attention to.
- Are they happy to answer your questions, or do they try to rush you out of there? You want a vet who is patient and willing to take the time to help you fully understand your pet’s health and care needs.
What To Do if You Don’t Like Your Vet
Sometimes, it’s just not a good match. Whether it’s price, location, or clashing personalities, you can always switch to a new vet if that’s the best choice for you and your pet.
Before you leave, request a copy of all of your pet’s medical records. This shouldn’t be an issue, as you are legally entitled to that information.
If they ask why you’re leaving, try to give a helpful, constructive answer. If anything, you may help them improve their services for other pet parents.
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