Get some opinions. Ask around to see where folks take their pets, why they take them there, and if they’re happy with the veterinarian.
Ask friends, family members, and co-workers, but make certain to ask them why they see that particular veterinarian. Pet owners often take their pets to a specific clinic just because they always have and always will, or because the veterinarian is a long-time family friend. This doesn’t make it the ideal choice for you.
Request groomers, petsitters, kennels, and other pet support facilities.
Ask people at a breed club
Ask your local humane society or other animal-welfare groups
Ask private pet rescue organizations
Educate yourself on the veterinarian’s background
Record with the state’s medical board (Have any complaints have been filed?)
Document with the local humane society
Membership with any professional veterinary institutions
If the vet is a specialist (behavioral, surgical, ophthalmology, Raccoon Poop, etc.), check to see how he or she qualifies to be an expert. Be sure that he or she has experience, education, and certification in their specialty.
Office Hours, Appointments, and Emergencies
What are the regular office hours? Are they compatible with your program?
Can you request a consultation with a specific veterinarian? Seeing the identical veterinarian will allow him or her to become more familiar with your pet and better able to assess whether your pet is sick because he or she has seen your pet before.
Who covers the practice when the doctor is unavailable?
Is the doctor available to occasionally answer questions over the telephone?
Will the vet take calls or answer phone messages if a crisis befalls your pet during the weekend or evening?
Does this clinic provide emergency after-hours guidance, or is there a nearby emergency clinic you will be referred to?
If your vet refers patients for emergency care, get the address and telephone number of the facility and be sure to drive by the emergency center so you’ll know where it is.
Is the emergency clinic staffed while your pet is there? Will there be any time period when your pet will be unattended to?
Fees, insurance, and payment methods
Do ask about fees, but don’t base your decision solely on the least expensive clinic.
When evaluating fees, be sure to learn what is included, some practices will include anesthesia, monitoring equipment, and aftercare in the expense of a surgery, while other practices will have them as separate charges; so you aren’t always comparing the same fees and services.
Is the vet a specialist in an area that you do not require for your pet? Fees may be higher for specialists and it might not make sense to pay more for a professional that does not apply to the requirements of your pet.
Are discounts offered for senior citizens or multi-pet households?
Is payment expected on the day of the trip?
Does the practice take your insurance plan?
Condition and location of the facility
Is the facility clean, comfortable, and well-organized?
Examine the reception, waiting room, parking lot, and yard for cleanliness and odors.
Are the magazines and literature in the waiting room current or out-dated?
What types of products do they sell?
Some veterinary clinics are members of the American Animal Hospital Association, which means that the practice has voluntarily pursued and met the institution’s standards in the areas of facility, equipment, and quality care.
How busy is your practice? Is the lobby full or are the phones ringing off the hook? A certain level of busyness is a good sign, but also many clients may cause long waiting times and a reduced availability of appointments.
Friendliness and quality of employees
Are they informative and helpful?
Are they too pushy?
Do they take the time to listen and answer your questions?
Do they seem to want to get off the phone quickly or do they seem too busy for you? If yes, they will probably always be too busy to give your pet the care needed.
Are they dressed professionally and cleanly?
Is the secretary friendly? Does they answer the phone professionally and say their name? Can they answer fundamental questions about pet care?
Is the staff friendly, caring, calm, competent, and courteous?
Does the veterinarian interact well with the technicians?
Are you familiar with the vet? Veterinarians are a individual as the rest of us. Some have a simple”bedside manner” and others are more surprising and in a hurry. Some will explain every detail about your pet’s condition and others are too busy to do so. Some will calm your anxieties and grieve with you and others are going to brush off your worries or seem insensitive to the loss of a pet.
Take note that technicians manage basic procedures, like drawing blood, taking temperatures, and preparing your pet for surgery, so it is important that you’re comfortable with the technician’s ability to manage your pet and work with you.
Range of services the clinic offers
Are x-rays, ultrasounds, bloodwork, and other diagnostics done in house or referred to a specialist?
How fast are the test results obtained?
Does the vet offer a broad assortment of medications?
Does your pet require a veterinarian with special interests, such as geriatrics?
What experience does the vet have with any particular medical need your pet may have, such as diabetes, allergies, or chronic pain?
What is the vet’s policy on vaccinations for kittens, puppies and adult cats and dogs? Many veterinarians are getting away from automatic annual vaccinations for adults because of evidence that immunization lasts more than 12 weeks for some vaccines, and studies have linked too-frequent vaccinations with immune system disorders.
Other things to consider
The veterinarian should perform a test on your pet during the first trip. This should include feeling the pet over for suspicious lumps or bumps, checking the ears and eyes, listening to the center, and assessing the teeth.
The veterinarian should ask you questions regarding the pet’s general health and ask for the pet’s medical history.
Your pet should be comfortable with the vet. An experienced veterinarian will manage the toughest pet without causing any undue strain on the pet.
Does the clinic offer any other services like boarding or grooming?
Is the vet willing to prescribe drugs and permit you to fill the prescription elsewhere?
Do you trust the veterinarian? Most importantly, what do your instincts tell you?
If you’re transferring your pet from another clinic, be sure to move your pet’s health records.