Finding the right veterinarian for your dog, cat, or other pet will be essential for their long-term health and happiness. If you’re hunting for the ultimate checklist, here are the focus points to help you get it right the first time.
Start your research early
One of the biggest problems is that most pet parents don’t look for a vet until they need one, when their pet is sick or injured. In this situation, availability and price are often the most important things. However, these shouldn’t be the only factors guiding your selection of veterinary clinic.
Start looking for a local, qualified vet before you bring your new pet home. Or, at the very least, before they are due for their first check-up. This gives you many choices and the time to find the right match.
Focus on the connection between you and your vet
When doing your research and trial, you’ll want to focus on how well you and your vet communicate. What kinds of questions do they ask? Do they want input from you on your pet’s condition? Do they explain procedures and symptoms to you?
Having a professional yet compassionate relationship between you and your vet is going to be a huge asset to ensuring proper care for your pet. Focus on how the vet interacts with you, and remember that your “gut instinct” is going to factor in, too. Also focus on the connection between your pet and your vet.
As important as your connection with the professional is your pet’s connection with them! Is your vet compassionate toward your pet when they’re feeling uncertain or scared? Do they address your pet by name? Do they move at your pet’s speed and comfort level?
As well, take note of how your pet reacts with the vet. Do they seem relatively comfortable around your vet? Are they acting aggressively? While it’s normal for pets to be uncomfortable around vets at first if they have not met them before , they shouldn’t be entirely terrified!
Be ready with some common questions
There are some typical questions that you can ask your potential vet so that you’ll be able to get a feel for what they can do for you and your pet. Some of the most common ones you could ask them, include:
- Where is the nearest 24 hour emergency facility? Since life can get chaotic, knowing whether your clinic will sometimes operate outside of normal business hours can be helpful as well.
- What is your charge for emergency care? All emergency slots will cost something, but you’ll want to know that charge beforehand. While your pet’s well-being will come before that cost, it’s nice to know upfront what you’ll pay. If your vet doesn’t have an emergency service, they should partner with one that does. If not, it’s something to consider seriously. After all, who can predict emergencies?
- Do you work with pet insurance or pet financing programs? Vet care costs a lot, and it’ll help you to know if they offer any kind of payment plans or financing. Some even work with insurance companies for direct billing, which can be a huge plus. Even if you know that you’re okay financially, ask this question anyway so that you know what you’re getting into.
- How many vets work here? Most vet offices will have more than one qualified vet at the office. If not, this is something to consider seriously. After all, vets work hard and have to take breaks once in a while. What if your pet needs care during that time?
- Do your vets have specialties? Some have specialties in certain types of pets, dog breeds, and even surgeries. While any vet should offer standard service, it might be interesting to consider a vet with a specialty in an area that you think your pet might need. It can help catch early signs of a disease or disorder, for example.
Visit the office with and without your pet
It’s a good idea to have a short visit to the vet office that you’re considering both with and without your pet. Take an opportunity to notice how the staff are, how well they work together, and how the clients and pets seem to act in the space. Is the area organized? Is there chaos or unsettling behavior? How long does everyone wait?
When you bring your pet, take note of how your pet feels and behaves in the space. How do staff act with them? Do they remember your pet’s name? Focus on the small details that help you get a feel for how things actually work!
Ask for referrals from your vet
This might sound wacky, but it’s really a good idea. Vets understand that they aren’t your only option. If you aren’t enjoying the vibe, or you just want to see how they’ll react, ask your vet to recommend another one. They will recommend their own services but should give you a few other suggestions as well, explaining why they might be a better fit for your needs. This shows professionalism and collaboration, which both work in their favor.
Plus, any vet that they recommend you to is going to be a great option to consider, since they wouldn’t recommend anyone that will do wrong to your pet! It’ll give you another name to add to your research list.
The right vet for you and your pet
Many well-intentioned pet parents don’t know how to properly find the right kind of professional for their pets. These tips will help you find your way to the right professional relationship without any unnecessary stress. The bottom line is this: if you take your search for a vet as carefully as you take your search for your own doctor, your pet will be much better off for it!