Even if your animal is healthy, it’s important to develop a good relationship with a veterinarian that you trust. Emergencies happen when you least expect them, and even generally low-maintenance animals can develop an illness or be injured. You may have a vet you’ve used for years, but if you’re a new pet parent or you’ve recently moved, you may be on the hunt for a new vet.
Here are some tips for finding the right doctor for the animals in your life:
-Be a detective! The first thing to do when looking for a veterinarian is to ask for recommendations. Start by asking friends and neighbors, and be sure to talk to the employees at your local pet store; find out where they take their own pets and which vets their customers speak highly of (and potentially, who to avoid). Once you have a few names, do a little online research. Google the veterinarians you’re interested in, and read any Yelp! reviews for the business. Even though people are more likely to write a negative review than a positive one, what you find online can add to a well-rounded view of the business you’re investigating.
–Make a visit. Once you’ve picked out a few likely candidates, make some calls. Ask about the office’s on-staff veterinarians, their procedures, office hours, and prices. If you own an exotic animal (even certain common pets, such as rabbits or birds are often classified as “exotic”) or a specialized breed (for example, a Sphynx cat), be sure to ask if they treat the kind of animal you own and if there are additional charges that apply to specialty animals. Chances are you’ll be able to pare down your options pretty easily. Once you do, schedule a time to go visit the office and add your pet to the office’s patient files and fill out any new-client paperwork.
–Check out the facilities. An office doesn’t have to be ultra-modern, or feature a plethora of high-end diagnostic equipment; although if you have a pet with a chronic condition or illness, those things may be important to you. However, any vet’s office should be clean, uncluttered, and well organized. Ask for a tour of the facility if possible (not all offices will allow this for various good reasons, but if you’re concerned, it never hurts to make the request).
–Meet the Staff. Both the veterinarians and the office staff should be friendly, confident, and communicate in a clear and professional manner. You want to feel comfortable with the people you’ll be entrusting your pet’s health to. A veterinarian can have a long list of qualifications, but ultimately, you want to feel that he or she, and the staff as a whole, truly cares about the animals in their care.
–Wellness Check. Now that you’ve chosen the veterinarian you want to use, be sure to make an appointment for a wellness check. A wellness check is similar to a human’s routine physical. A veterinarian will observe your pet’s vital signs, as well as discuss their health history, diet, and exercise with you. In some cases, a veterinarian may encourage you to do a few routine tests, such as a fecal exam or a blood panel. These tests can offer valuable insight into your pet’s health, and can provide a “healthy baseline” a veterinarian can use later on in diagnosing whether a future test result is typical or abnormal for a particular animal.
Do you have any more tips you’d like to share? Want to sing the praises of your favorite veterinarian? We welcome your comments!
About the Author
Samantha Grant is a life-long animal lover. She has been a horse trainer, PATH, INT. certified therapeutic horseback riding instructor, animal nutritionist, and writer. Samantha, or “Sam” to her friends enjoys spending her free time playing with her animals, working around the ranch, and reading.