Choosing your veterinarian is a very important decision that should not be taken lightly. Finding a veterinarian with whom you can build a trusting relationship will provide you with the peace of mind that your beloved pet’s health is in good hands. I have come up with a few tips to help guide you through the process of finding the right veterinarian.
- Recommendation-It is always good to get a recommendation from someone you trust. Also, inquire within pet communities in your area for example, local training clubs, groomers, and rescues. Other pet professionals can be a great resource.
- Research-check out the veterinarian. How long have they been practicing? Have they hopped from job to job? Did they complete an internship? Have they had any disciplinary action against their license? You can check this at www.op.nysed.gov.
- Interview– Call the office and ask if you could set up a time to stop in and meet the veterinarian. Let them know that you are looking for a doctor for your pet. A good veterinarian should be happy to take the time to meet a potential new client. Questions to ask the vet;
- Does she or she he have any special interests? ex. nutrition, holistic medicine, etc.
- How long has he or she been practicing? And how long at this clinic?
- What type of monitoring devices are available at the clinic ex. EKG, blood pressure unit, pulse oximetry, etc.
- What type of diagnostic equipment does the clinic have such as radiographs, ultrasound, in-house blood work, etc.
- What are the hours? Where would they send you for an after hours emergency?
- Are the technicians licensed? How many are on staff?
4. Your first impression– when you bring your pet to your new veterinarian there are a few signals you should look for;
- Take note of the receptionists-are they organized, professional, knowledgeable and friendly?
- Does the veterinarian greet you with confidence and warmth.
- Does he or she greet your pet with gentleness and kindness. Note whether or not your veterinarian takes the time to connect with your pet.
- Is the clinic clean?
5. Do not choose your veterinarian simply based on location. The best veterinarian for your pet may not be the closest to your house.
6. Price shopping– Too cheap could be a red flag. For example, if you find a veterinarian that performs low cost spays it may mean your pet will receive less than standard care. Cheap spays often mean no pain meds, no anesthesia monitoring devices, and no IV fluids making it a more painful and higher risk procedure. You want a veterinarian that upholds certain standards of medicine.
7. Expectations there are a few things that you should expect from your veterinarian;
- A good listener– Your vet should take time to listen to your concerns. Although you may not have a veterinary degree, you know your pet well therefore your concerns should always be taken seriously.
- Patient person- Your vet should always demonstrate patience with both you and your pet.
- Respectful-of you as your pet’s guardian. Your veterinarian should never do anything to your pet without your permission including giving treatments, taking him/her out of the room, etc.
- A good teacher- Your veterinarian should be a great resource for everything pet care related including training, behavior, and nutrition.
- Thorough doctor– this includes taking a complete history and performing a complete examination of your pet from nose to tail.
8. Healer-Your veterinarian should be a true healer. A true healer, in my opinion, is one with a calm presence, gentle touch and instinctive nature.
9. Your gut– After a visit to your vet you should leave feeling informed of your pet’s health, confident that you and your pet received optimal care and service and comforted that your pet is in good hands. If your vet comes close but did not quite satisfy all of your needs then you may want to approach him or her. If they listen to your concerns and take them seriously it may be worth giving them a second chance. If not, then it may be time to look for a new vet.
10. Always remember, your pet deserves the very best care and it is up to you to find it for them. Don’t settle for less.