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How to Find the Best Vet

New Pet Owners  •   Mary Shaughney  •   Mar 18, 2020

If you’ve ever found yourself in need of a new veterinary clinic, then you know how difficult it can be to find the right fit. You want something close enough to home in case there’s an emergency, with the right kind of staff to meet your pet’s mental and health care needs. How do you go about choosing a new vet and knowing which clinic will be the right choice for you?

When to find a new veterinarian

If you’re about to bring home a new puppy and don’t currently have a vet for other pets, you’ve recently moved out of range of your previous vet clinic, or you feel like you aren’t clicking with your current veterinarian, it may be time to look for a new vet.

Prioritize your pet’s needs

If you’ve just brought home a new puppy, your priority in a vet clinic probably isn’t to find one with high quality geriatric care. If your dog frequently needs to see a specialist, finding a clinic with that specialist may be the easiest way to get the care you need without having to run all over town.

How to find a vet clinic

There are so many ways to find vet clinics near to you, but there are a few things that may help you find the right vet quicker!

  1. Recommendations – If you know other pet parents living in your area, ask them which vet they use and why they chose that clinic. People with strong opinions about why their vet is the best often indicates that they’ve had multiple good experiences with the clinic.
  2. Online search – You can find a lot of information about vet clinics online, including which are accepting new patients, clinic hours and a bit of background on their current veterinarians. Check out the AKC’s Veterinary Network to search for a veterinarian.
  3. Reviews – Whether it’s from a community magazine or a quick search online, reading the reviews for a vet clinic can help a lot to tell you the very good and very bad interactions that clients have had at the clinic. Remember, people don’t leave reviews if they feel neutral about something, so a vet clinic with a high rating probably means they have many clients who have had very positive experiences working with their vet.
  4. Accreditation – Check to see if the practices you’re looking at are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), which evaluates vet clinics on the quality of staff, patient care, facilities and equipment.

Schedule a time to talk

When you’ve narrowed down your search to a few options, call and schedule a time to speak with someone at the practice to get some of your questions answered. Some vets are happy to do this over the phone, while others will want you to schedule a new patient visit so they can meet your pet and better answer questions regarding your specific pet’s health. If you want to narrow down your choices to one or two, ask a few of your key questions over the phone and choose a couple of clinics to schedule a new patient visit for more information.

Take a tour of the clinic

If you can tour the facility before or during your new patient visit, there are a few things to be aware of:

  1. Is the facility close to your home and is there easy parking?
  2. Are there separate waiting areas for cats and dogs or the waiting room large enough to allow for space between clients?
  3. Do employees look frazzled or unhappy?
  4. Are the staff patient with animals or rushing them along?
  5. Is the office clean and organized?
  6. Is your appointment on time?

Questions to ask the vet

  1. Does the practice have licensed veterinary technicians on staff?
  2. How many vets are in the office?
  3. What does a basic wellness visit entail?
  4. What other services are offered (ex. Grooming, boarding, etc.)?
  5. Does the practice offer alternative or holistic treatments?
  6. Will the vet refer patients to specialists when needed? Are there specialists on staff at the practice?
  7. Are there emergency services at the practice or a nearby clinic that they will refer pet owners to for emergencies?
  8. How are overnight patients monitored?
  9. What type of payments does the practice accept?
  10. Does the practice work efficiently with pet insurance to ensure the company has everything they need to quickly process a claim?
  11. Can diagnostic testing, such as radiographs and bloodwork, be done on site?

Choose the best fit

Once you’ve seen a few locations and found a vet that you think will be a good fit for helping you care for your pup, be sure the vet has everything they need. If you’re switching vets, request that your old clinic sends over veterinary records and medical history to your new vet. If you have a new puppy, schedule a first vet visit - be sure to show up a little early to fill out any paperwork and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Enroll in pet insurance!

If you don’t already have your dog enrolled in a pet insurance policy, it’s something all pet owners should consider! Pet insurance can help you save on unexpected vet bills as well as on routine care items such as wellness visits, flea/tick preventatives, and more. Get a quote!

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