Finding the right veterinarian for your puppy is an important step in becoming a puppy parent. The goal of Choosing a veterinarian is to feel comfortable enough with the veterinarian and the clinic to be able to trust that your veterinarian will provide the best care available. Choosing the right veterinarian can mean a long and healthy life for your pet and will help alleviate worry during times of emergency. Whether you are changing veterinarians, have recently moved, or have a newly adopted puppy, selecting a veterinarian can be made easier with these quick tips.
Where to Start
In looking for a new veterinarian, one of the best places to start is by doing an internet search for veterinarians in your city. The phone book has rapidly moved from offline to online, meaning most veterinarian clinics are online. If a veterinarian clinic doesn't have an online presence, you have to wonder, what else is out-of-date in the practice?
If you're using an online resource to find a veterinarian, be sure the reviews and information are validated. This means:
- Reviews are real, indicating they are written by existing patients who have had an experience at the clinic or with the veterinarian. Otherwise, you may encounter reviews that are purchased, bribed, or promoted.
- Listing information is not some form of advertising, meaning the top of the list, or "best veterinarian" isn't simply paying to be there.
- The volume of listings is expansive and deep in surfacing important information. If there are only a few veterinarians listed on the site, what great veterinarians are they missing that could be the right provider for your pet?
If you don't have the internet available, or don't trust it, another option is to ask family, friends, or neighbors who have pets. Who is their veterinarian and why did they choose them? What do they like and dislike about the veterinarian?
There is a variety of clinic types to choose from when selecting a veterinarian. For puppies, a small animal practice will offer most of the services, diagnostics and treatments your pet will need. If you are concerned about the presence of other animals or have allergies to other kinds of animals, you may choose to select a clinic that serves dogs only. Emergency clinics are also an option, however, may not be a good choice for your pet’s general veterinarian. Emergency clinics deal in emergency situations. Traffic can be high and stressful, waiting can be long, and prices may be on the high end. Mobile clinics are a good option if you are limited in mobility or without a vehicle and will not be able to transport your pet to regular visits.
Location can be important in choosing a veterinarian. You can commute long-distances to regularly scheduled exams and vaccinations. However, this can be a problem during an emergency. Seconds and minutes can mean the difference between life and death in many emergency situations, and it is likely you will need to go to the nearest clinic to get care. If you do decide to choose a vet out of your area, be sure to also choose the clinic you will attend in case of emergency and try to keep a copy of your pet’s medical records on hand, so they don’t have to wait for them to be faxed from your regular clinic.
Once you have a list of veterinarians you are considering, schedule a meet-and-greet to talk with the veterinarians, have a look at the facilities and meet the staff. It is not necessary to bring your pet to this first appointment. Look around the clinic and observe the level of cleanliness and organization. You will want to evaluate vet-client communication, breed treatment, payment options, AAHA accreditation, hours of operation, grooming and boarding capabilities, after-hours protocols, house call options, and facilities.
While you are at your meet-and-greet, note whether you and the veterinarian communicate with each other well. Ask her any questions you may have about your new pet and see that his answers show he is a good listener and able to provide answers.
It is a good idea when dealing with purebred dogs to find out if your veterinarian sees a number of breeds of that type. Certain breeds are genetically predisposed to certain conditions. Veterinarians who have worked with these breeds will know right away if that condition is present and will be very familiar with treatment protocols.
Veterinary prices should not be the number one priority on your list when choosing a veterinarian. You may find it helpful to compare prices for exams and vaccines. However, your decision should not be based on cost alone. Do find out what forms of payment (check, credit card) are acceptable, when payment is due, and if there are any available payment plans or wellness plans, specifically insurance options or care credit.
The American Animal Hospital Association provides evaluations of veterinary practices based on the quality of patient care, staff training, facilities, and equipment. AAHA accreditation can be helpful in validating a high-quality, best-in-class, practice.
Be sure that the hours of the veterinary clinic you choose will fit with your daily routine. Some veterinary clinics are open on weekends or after work hours on weeknights to accommodate all types of schedules.
Grooming or Boarding
If you have a long-haired breed or breed that requires frequent grooming, you may want to choose a veterinarian that offers these services. Some vets offer general grooming such as bathing and hygiene clips but do not offer styling or professional cuts. It is nice to have a veterinary practice that offers to board if you travel. Boarding at a veterinary clinic means the pet will be near nursing staff most hours of the day and is especially important if the pet will need medications or other treatment while you are away.
How does the clinic deal with your pet having an emergency after hours? Is your veterinarian going to be on-call? Is there another clinic nearby that takes on after-hours emergencies for your veterinarian? Most clinics that are closed overnight have a nearby emergency clinic that they refer their patients to and communicate with on a regular basis.
House calls are nice if you are without a vehicle or limited in mobility. Ask if you can schedule house calls for annual exams and vaccinations.
Does the clinic do surgery, x-ray, ultrasound, dentistry and laboratory testing in-house? Having these services available in the clinic itself can allow your vet to treat your pet rather than having to transport your pet to another location to provide treatment. Laboratory testing done in-house can often deliver results before your appointment is over. Laboratory testing that must be sent out will take 24 hours or longer. Most clinics do some degree of laboratory testing in house and send the rest to larger facilities.
Choosing a veterinarian that is right for you means you can be confident your fluffy friend will receive the best of care in any situation. Take the time to do your research and find that perfect fit.