Many of us feel as if our pets are members of our family, so we should keep that in mind when we find a vet. Whether you have a bunny, a dog, a cat, or a horse, pets are a big responsibility. Finding the right veterinarian is just as important for your pet as finding the right doctor is for your family.
A veterinarian is actually a doctor. Veterinarians are required to complete almost the same amount of training and education that a human doctor must have. This means that your veterinarian is a professional. He or she should be knowledgeable and up-to-date in their chosen field, and most veterinarians are required to amass some form of continuing education credits. So, you have found a person in the phone book with the initials "DVM" following their name. How do you know that this veterinarian is the right choice for your family? A few simple questions will help you to establish a life-long relationship with your new veterinarian.
Choose a Vet Knowledgeable about Your Pet
First, narrow your list of prospective veterinarians by looking at each doctor's chosen specialty. If you have dogs or cats, a small animal practice is going to be the best choice for your individual needs. If your pet is an exotic animal, like a snake or a bird, there are specialized veterinarians to suit your needs, as well. Many veterinarians have become so specialized that they only treat one specific type of animal. These specialties include equine services, cat clinics, and large breed dog clinics, just to name a few. Many veterinary clinics have several doctors working together in one facility.
Ask around for Recommendations
Getting recommendations from your friends can really help you to choose the right vet. Since your friends are most likely familiar with your pets, they will be able to tell you if their vet is a good fit for you. Asking for references at local animal shelters or the county animal control office is another way to find a veterinarian. Most of these animal services have access to many veterinarians and will be able to share their insight as to which are the best. You might also visit several veterinary clinics to get a feel for each office. Is the office neat and tidy? Is the veterinarian personable? Does he or she take the time to listen to your concerns? Making sure that you are comfortable with the new clinic is a good way to ensure that your pet will be comfortable.
Check out the Staff
Spend a bit of time with the veterinarian's office staff. A competent staff is a very important part of any veterinary practice. Make sure that the office has reasonable office hours. A veterinary practice with a single veterinarian on staff might have limited hours of operation so you may be referred to the emergency clinic when your veterinarian's office is closed. If this is the case, make sure that you also familiarize yourself with the emergency veterinarians in your area.
Ask questions while you visit with the staff and see how they respond to your queries. A good staff will be knowledgeable. Remember, the staff will probably spend the most time with your pet at routine visits. They handle taking your pet's vital signs and preparing the pet for the veterinary exam. Question the staff about their experience and their time spent with the veterinarian. A happy and steady staff is a sign of an excellent office. In addition you can discuss your budget and financial needs with the staff. Many veterinarians are an associate of a practice or a hospital, which means they aren't in charge of handling payments. Talk to the staff members that are, and see if they have budget plans or can recommend a pet insurance policy if you're interested in one.
Finally: Make an Appointment!
Once you think you might have found the right veterinarian for your pet, make an appointment. Communication is the key to a happy and lasting relationship with your new veterinarian. Remember to bring your pet's medical records with you to the appointment, or even fax, mail, or email them a few days ahead of time. This saves time when treating chronic illnesses and will give your vet a chance to get caught up with a complicated medical history. See if your appointment is kept on time, or if it is not, find out why. A chronically late veterinarian is a big disappointment, especially if you are on a tight schedule, but remember that the vet may face emergencies throughout the day. Do give him or her some leeway when it comes to promptness, and judge them on the quality of the time they spend with your pet.
Use a vet finder to find the right veterinarian for your pet.
More on Caring for Your Pet
Top 10 Dog Training Tips
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.
Anxiety in Dogs
When to Take a Cat to the Vet