Picking The Right Veterinarian For You

Choosing a veterinarian can be a hard decision. If you currently have pets, you most likely already have a vet. But what if you just moved to a new neighborhood? Perhaps you don't currently have a pet, but you are considering adopting one from the shelter? How do you go about finding the right vet for you and your pet?

Here are a few basic things to consider when choosing a veterinarian. While location is important, sometimes it may be worth your while to travel a little further to be able to get the care and service your pet deserves.

  • Location

    • As mentioned, location is important, but shouldn't be the only factor when considering a vet. Convenience plays a huge roll, and certainly makes routine checkups, wellness exams, and yearly vaccines easier. However it may be worth your while to go a little further if you can find a vet that that provides more for you and your pet than just location.

  • Hours
    • Is your vet open when you are able to go? Having to take a sick day every time your pet needs to go into the vet's office can be cumbersome. Does your vet's office provide early or late hours? Weekends? Some vets open early and stay late a couple of days each week, and many offices provide weekend hours to help accommodate your schedule.

  • What Type Of Pet Do You Have?
    • Not all vet offices deal with all types of pets. Most vets care for dogs and cats, but you may need to look for a specialist if you have a bird, reptile, small mammal, horse or livestock. In some cases you may need a vet that provides house calls. Make sure the vet you choose can meet your specific pet's needs.

  • Ask Around
    • Ask friends and neighbors for their recommendation. If you think your neighbor's dog looks healthy and happy, they may be a great choice to ask for a referral.

  • Cost
    • Cost is always a concern. Veterinary services are not cheap, and quite often are a surprise due to some type of an emergency. If you have pet insurance, make sure the office you choose accepts it. Does your office offer a payment plan that meets your needs?

  • Clean Facilities, Friendly Staff
    • When you are ready to go in for the first time, pay close attention to the facilities. Is the office clean?  Is the staff friendly and helpful? A busy office may be a good sign that you chose a good, quality office. But busy is no excuse for poor housekeeping and rude staff.

  • Specialties, Specialist Referrals, After Hours Emergencies
    • You may have a pet with a pre-existing condition. Many vets are general practitioners, and may not be prepared to care for every type of disease or ailment. Find out how your vet office handles referrals if necessary. You may need to seek out a specialist and possibly maintain appointments with both a specialist and your regular vet. Some specialty offices don't handle routine wellness checks and vaccinations. Most likely, your vet office will not be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out how they handle after hour emergencies. In some rural areas there may be an on call vet, in other cases the office may partner with an after hours emergency clinic. It is always good to know where that clinic is located in case of an emergency.
Once you have chosen a vet office, remember a couple of things. It is okay to seek a second opinion. If you receive a serious diagnosis, want more information, or would like to seek an alternate type of treatment, get a second opinion.  Second, know that you are never locked in. If you decide that your vet's office is not meeting your needs, it is okay to request your pet's records and find a different office. If you found the following information helpful, please consider donating to our rescue here: www.leavenopawsbehind.org/donate