Choosing a Veterinarian
One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a pet parent is finding a quality health care provider for your furry friend. Selecting the right veterinarian is a personal decision, but you’ll want to choose a practice that offers the highest available standard of care.
The best way to find a good veterinarian is to ask people who have the same approach to pet care as you. Start with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, dog trainer, groomer, boarding kennel employee or pet sitter.
Google "Veterinarians" and "Animal Hospitals," where you can likely find important information about hours, services and staff. Check for membership in the American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA membership means that a veterinary hospital has voluntarily pursued and met AAHA's standards in the areas of facility, equipment and quality care.
If you're looking for a specialist, ask about board certification. This means the vet has studied an additional two to four years in the specialty area and passed a rigorous exam.
Once you've narrowed your search, you will want to evaluate the facility and learn about the clinic's philosophy and policies.
What to look for
Is the facility clean, comfortable and well-organized? Are appointments required? How many veterinarians are in the practice? Are there technicians or other professional staff members? Are dog and cat cages in separate areas? Is the staff caring, calm, competent and courteous, and do they communicate effectively? Do the veterinarians have special interests such as geriatrics or behavior? Are X-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, EKG, endoscopy and other diagnostics done in-house or referred to a specialist? Which emergency services are available? Is location and parking convenient?
Meeting the veterinarian
How about the doctor? Does he/she take time to listen to your concerns? Are you given enough time to explain and ask questions? How is his/her rapport with your pet? Does he/she talk to your animal and try to establish a relationship before starting the exam? Is your pet called by name? Does the doctor take time to do an exam and address your concerns? Do you feel comfortable asking questions? Are your questions answered? If your pet is ill or if some type of in-hospital procedure is required is everything well explained?
It is important that you advocate for yourself and your pet. If the vet is not respectful of your care philosophy, look for another vet! Be sure that your vet provides an estimate of anticipated charges before starting treatment and whenever possible makes you aware of alternatives that may be more economical. Liability concerns and the potential of lawsuits often cause vets to be overly cautious in the care options offered. If a vet recommends expensive testing, we ask them to offer a clinical diagnosis that we may act on first. This often leads to an inexpensive resolution to the problem. If you don't ask, they probably won't offer! Avoid vets who concoct issues. We have had buyers call us in a panic because the vet they chose got them all worked up over nothing. Our vet thoroughly checks out the puppies before we send them to their new homes. We would ever send you a puppy with a known defect or health issue.