Choosing the perfect veterinarian for your dog is like finding the right doctor for yourself. Just as you want a knowledgeable, empathetic, and trustworthy doctor, you want a veterinarian with the expertise to treat your dog's health issues, show compassion for your furry friend, and can be relied upon to provide the best care possible.
Finding the right veterinarian is crucial, whether you've just moved to a new area, got a new puppy, or simply decided your old vet isn't cutting it. Don't just Google and choose the veterinarian that’s closest to your home! This is not a decision based on convenience (although having your vet nearby would be nice.) You want somebody who aligns with your needs as a pet parent to ensure the best care possible.
So how do you choose a vet that will see your pets through every stage of life?
Ask trusted pet parents.
Seeking veterinarian recommendations from those who have been in your shoes before can be incredibly valuable. One of the best resources you can tap into is the collective knowledge of your family, friends, or even fellow dog park regulars.
First, find out if you share similar philosophies about pet care. Then ask about vets they’ve had good experiences with.
- What’s it like taking their pets for a visit?
- Are the veterinary clinic fees in your price range?
Their firsthand experience can give you insights into the quality of their dogs' care and help you determine if you’d be a good fit for that environment too.
Check for the veterinarian’s credentials
After receiving the recommendations, perform additional due diligence to give you peace of mind knowing that your furry friend will be in good hands.
- Is the vet licensed?
- What’s the veterinarian’s educational and training background?
- Is the veterinary practice accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association?
- How long has the vet clinic been in business?
Consider your pet’s health concerns.
Your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle can all impact the type of veterinarian you want to entrust with its health. So it's important to choose a vet with experience and knowledge of your pet’s specific needs. For example, dogs with allergies, chronic conditions, or behavior concerns may require specialized veterinary care and support.
- Are there vets who specialize in your dog’s needs nearby?
- Is their veterinary specialty officially recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association?
Match your schedule.
Scheduling is a factor! We all have busy lives as pet parents, so it's essential to find a veterinarian who can accommodate your pet without you having to rearrange your entire day. If you can ONLY take your dog to the vet for wellness visits on weekends, you don’t want a vet who is closed on those days. Matching your schedule with your vet's availability is a critical aspect of how to choose a vet.
- What are the veterinarian’s working hours?
- Does the clinic offer weekend appointments?
- Is the vet available on short notice if an emergency arises?
- If not, where do they refer emergency cases to — and is it local to you?
It may sound old-fashioned, but some veterinarians will even make house calls. In many areas, concierge services like The Vets will come to you. Make vet visits less stressful and more convenient for you and your pet by finding a veterinarian who can work around your schedule.
Visit without your dog.
Make an in-person visit to vet practices — but leave your pooch behind. Why? So you can focus on evaluating the veterinary clinic and make an informed decision about your new veterinarian.
- Facilities: Are the waiting area and exam rooms clean and well-maintained?
- Staff: Are the veterinarian and veterinary technicians friendly and knowledgeable? Can they answer your questions and address your concerns in a helpful and professional manner?
- Services: What are the vet clinic's pet services and policies?
Once you've found the right vet practice, you can schedule an appointment to introduce your furry friend to their new caregiver.
What is a vet visit like?
If your pet is anxious about going to the clinic, take that into consideration when deciding how to choose a vet. Look for customer experiences that point to the staff catering to the needs of anxious or scared dogs in their office.
- How do the veterinarian and staff members connect with your dog to reduce stress?
- Are they Fear Free Certified Professionals? (Look for one if possible!)
- Are they part of the DOGTV Veterinary Program? Many clinics around the US and Canada are starting to stream DOGTV in the lobby and recovery rooms to calm and relax their patients.
Choosing the perfect vet for your furry companion is like picking your forever BFF - you want to make sure they're the right fit for your pup's personality and health needs. Don't forget, though, you're not stuck with your first choice forever! Switching things up is always an option if you and your pooch aren't feeling the love. Use these questions and concerns to help narrow down your options and find the perfect match for your bestie!