Finding the right veterinarian for your pet is an important aspect of being a pet owner. It is important to find a vet and develop a relationship with them in the early stages of pet ownership. Don’t wait until your pet has a major illness and find yourself scrambling to find a good vet. Following are some things to consider when searching for a veterinarian.

Location

Try to find a vet close to home. Many pets become stressed when traveling in a car. The shorter the trip to the vet’s office, the less stressed they will be. A relaxed pet is easier to examine than a stressed or excited one.

Facility

When you first arrive, ask yourself if you think the outside of the office is clean, well maintained and if there is enough parking. Upon entering, observe the place. A veterinarian office should smell like animals but not like excrement. Is the waiting area large enough to accommodate all the animals there including your pet?

Staff

When you arrive at the veterinarian office, observe the staff. Are they friendly to both you and your pet? Do they seem knowledgeable and efficient? A veterinarian hospital is only as good as their front office staff. If they seem unorganized and inefficient, you have to wonder what is going on behind the scenes. The front office staff is an indication of how the entire office is operating behind the counter and sometimes they are even responsible for the management of the whole facility.

Emergency Hours

Find out if they have emergency hours available or if they have a veterinarian on-call for emergencies. If not, ask for a reference for a nearby emergency veterinary hospital.

Services

What diagnostic services do they offer? Do they have the ability to do things such as x-rays and lab work in-house? Do they have any specialists on staff, such as an orthopedic surgeon? Some veterinary hospitals now offer holistic alternatives as well.

Doctor(s)

The best way to get to know a veterinarian is to set up a “well-pet” visit. This gives you a chance to ask any questions you may have and see how your pet reacts to them. If you have any preferences such as years of experience, gender, etc. tell the appointment setter when you are making the initial appointment so they can match you with the right vet. When meeting the vet for the first time, don’t be afraid to “interview” them. They should be willing to answer all of your questions and take the time to make you and your pet feel comfortable. If you go to a practice that has more than one vet on staff and you do not feel comfortable with the first doctor you meet, don’t be afraid to ask for another appointment with a different doctor.

Choosing a doctor for your pet is as important as choosing a doctor for yourself. Get references from other pet owners if you can. For further information on veterinary medicine and services, go to www.avma.org or www.aahanet.org. For assistance finding a vet in your area, visit www.veterinarians.com. Finding the right vet for you and your pet may take some time, but once you find the right match it can be very rewarding.

Considerations

Here are some of the more important factors to consider before deciding on a vet for your pet:

  • Education – where they went to school and any specialties they may have studied, especially if you have an exotic pet.
  • Experience – how many years of experience the prospective vet has overall and how many treating your specific kind of pet are important considerations.
  • Number of animals the vet sees in an average month – a vet who sees too many clients maybe spread too thin to take adequate care of you and your pet. However, a vet in a large office who doesn’t see many patients may be a warning sign of problems in that office.
  • If your pet requires surgery or an overnight stay is there staff on site 24 hours – availability of staff during off hours may be an indication of the kind of care your pet will receive.

These are only a few of the things you may want to consider depending on your specific needs and those of your pet.

Final Thoughts

It can be a challenge to find a well-trained veterinarian that meets all the things you want in a vet. If you stick to these few vital points, you will at least have a good foundation to build a lifelong relationship with a vet near you.

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