When we polled our potential readers before opening Your Pet Space, we found one of the most important things to them was how to find the best vet. The worst time to find a new veterinarian is when your pet is having an emergency, so hopefully this will help you be prepared ahead of time.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is a good place to start. They have a search feature that allows you to find accredited facilities in your area that have been evaluated on their facilities, staff, equipment and patient care. You can also find vets that are open 24 hours or that specialize in areas such as dermatology, oncology or cardiology. InfoVet of Canada also offers this service for our friends up north. And for our friends in India, we recommend Bring Fido.
Another great way to find the right vet for your pet is to get recommendations from other pet owners who share your general philosophy (such as, if you don’t want your pet routinely vaccinated). You could also ask local animal shelters, dog trainers, groomers or pet sitters.
But, once you find an accredited vet near you, how do you know it’s the right vet for you?
- Arrange for a first appointment without your dog to speak with a veterinarian.
- Once you’re there, check whether the space is clean, modern and well-organized.
- Ask about whether vets on staff share responsibility and cover for each other during vacations or other absences.
- Do you have good rapport with the vet? This is critical.
- Ask questions! The best thing you can do as a pet parent is not be shy asking what you really want to know.
You may want to ask:
- How are overnight patients monitored?
- What sort of diagnostic and monitoring equipment does the practice use?
- Does the vet refer patients to specialists?
- How are patients evaluated before anesthesia and surgery?
- Does the practice have licensed veterinary technicians on staff?
- What is the protocol for pain management?
- Does the practice offer emergency after hours treatment? If not, to whom do they refer?
- What’s the average cost of routine procedures like wellness exams, titers and teeth cleaning?
Above all, don’t be afraid to change vets if you are not happy for any reason. Trust your gut. Your pet will thank you.
Best thing we did regarding our vet was to listen to our dog. My grandmother had Deanna first, and while she knew men in our family, she was very uneasy around men she didn’t know. After my grandmother passed and I took over full care of Deanna, I noticed she was uncomfortable around her vet… because he was male and most of the staff was male. I told them that I was very sorry, but we’d have to change. I felt horrible about it, because those people had taken care of our family pets for years. Our previous dog, Smokey, would run away TO the vet and bark at the door to be let IN! Sending Deanna to a place with a higher female population AND letting them know she needed female care made things SO much easier for her!