I'm currently in the process of looking for a new veterinarian for my dog. We live in the city, so have a lot of options in our area. We are close by to everything from traditional vet practices, to holistic vets, to mobile vets. I wouldn't even have to leave my house come time for my dog's yearly exam!
For some people, the choice might be made easier by the fact that fewer practices are closer to them. Location is certainly an important consideration. You want to live close enough to your vet's clinic that it isn't a huge hassle to get your pet there for regular exams or, god forbid, in an emergency. Other than location, what do you look for when selecting a vet?
In my search for a new veterinarian for my Kitsune, these are some of the factors I've been taking into account...
- Is the practice AAHA accredited?: AAHA is the American Animal Hospital Association. While a veterinarian doesn't necessarily have to be AAHA accredited to be an awesome vet, accreditation does ensure compliance to at least a basic level of standards.
- Hours: This is similar to the location issue I spoke about above. The best vet in the world isn't going to do you much good if they are closed on the only days you have off. Some vet clinics have extended hours on certain days of the week, or longer weekend hours, to accommodate pet owners who work regular hours.
- Payment Options: Make sure the vet you select accepts your preferred form of payment. These days I pay my vet bills either with cash, check, or by credit card. However there was a time when I paid most of my vet bills with my Care Credit card, and not all veterinarians accept Care Credit. If you have pet insurance you may need to select a vet who accepts your insurance plan.
- Services/equipment: Not all vets will be able to preform all medical services. It's important to me to select a vet who can preform surgery at their clinic. If my dog ever needed surgery or a specialized procedure, I'd prefer to have it done with a vet who is familiar with him rather than having to be referred to a vet we've never been too before.
- Accessibility: I can be a paranoid pet owner at time, and I want to select a vet who won't mind me calling in with questions from time to time. I also want to know that, in instances when my dog has to stay at the clinic without me, that he'll be monitored and that someone will be available to talk to me when I call for updates.
- Facility Conditions: This one seems kind of common sense, but you want to make sure the facilities at the vet you select are kept clean. I worry that if clinic staff can't be bothered to keep all areas clean, what does that say about how they are going to care for my best friend. Plus, a dirty medical facility is just gross and increases the chances of diseases spreading.
- Philosophies: This is a big one for me. I feed my dog a biologically appropriate diet, and keep him on a minimal vaccine schedule. I don't want to have to argue with my vet about unnecessary yearly vaccinations, or be pressured about putting him on low quality kibble. Ask your potential new vet plenty of questions to make sure that you're comfortable with their philosophies.
- Interaction: It's important that you're comfortable with not only how your vet interacts with your pet, but with you as well. You should be comfortable speaking openly with your vet as well as confident that they will handle your pet with respect. This extends to clinic staff and vet techs as well.
- Are emergency services available?: Not all vets are available at all hours for emergency services. This isn't necessarily a reason to write off selecting that vet, but make sure you are aware of whether or not your vet preforms emergency services and if they do not, select an emergency clinic where you can take your pet in case of emergency.
Looks like a tall order right? But selecting a vet you're comfortable with is important- your pet's life could literally be in their hands. Comment below, are there any factors I didn't list that influence what vet you selected for your pet?