Get some remarks. Ask around to see where folks take their pets, why they take them there, and if they’re delighted with the veterinarian.
Ask friends, family, and co-workers, but make certain to ask them why they see this particular veterinarian. Pet owners often take their pets to a certain clinic simply because they always have and always will, or because the vet is a long-time family friend. This doesn’t make it the ideal choice for you.
Ask groomers, petsitters, kennels, and other pet support facilities.
Ask people at a breed club
Ask your local humane society or other animal-welfare groups
Request private pet rescue organizations
Educate yourself on the veterinarian’s background
Record with the state’s medical board (Have any complaints have been filed?)
Record 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 a specialist. 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 schedule?
Are appointments required?
Can you request an appointment with a specific veterinarian? Seeing the same veterinarian will allow them to become more acquainted with your pet and better able to evaluate whether your pet is sick because he or she has seen your pet before.
How many veterinarians are in the practice?
Who covers the practice when the doctor is unavailable?
Is the doctor available to occasionally answer questions over the phone?
Will the vet take calls or answer phone messages if a catastrophe befalls your pet during the weekend or evening?
How are emergency calls handled during regular office hours?
How are emergency calls handled after office hours?
Does this practice 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 facility so that you’ll know where it is.
Is the emergency clinic staffed while your pet is there? Will there be any time interval when your pet will be unattended to?
Fees, insurance, and payment methods
Do ask about fees, but do not base your choice solely on the cheapest clinic.
When evaluating fees, be sure to find out what’s included, some clinics will consist of anesthesia, monitoring equipment, and aftercare in the cost of a surgery, while other clinics will have them as separate fees; so you aren’t always comparing the very same fees and services.
Is the veterinarian an expert in an area that you do not require for your pet? Fees may be higher for specialists and it may not make sense to pay more for a specialist that doesn’t apply to the needs of your pet.
Are discounts offered for senior citizens or multi-pet households?
Is payment expected on the day of this visit?
Does the clinic accept your insurance plan?
What methods of payment are accepted? Are credit cards accepted?
Condition and location of the facility
Is the facility clean, comfy, and well-organized?
Inspect the reception, waiting room, parking lot, and lawn for cleanliness and odors.
Are the magazines and literature in the waiting room current or out-dated?
Are the posters and bulletin boards well-kept? Or are they ripped, stained or out-dated?
What types of products do they sell? Are they focused more on providing medical care or pushing products?
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 clinic? Is the lobby full or are the phones ringing off the hook? A certain level of busyness is a very good sign, but too many customers can cause long waiting times and a low availability of appointments.
Friendliness and quality of staff
Are they helpful and informative?
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 he or she answer the phone professionally and state his or her name? Can they answer basic questions about pet care?
Is the staff friendly, caring, calm, competent, and courteous?
Does the veterinarian interact nicely with the technicians?
Are you familiar with the vet? Veterinarians are a individual as the rest of us. Some have an easy”bedside manner” and others are more abrupt and in a hurry. 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.
Be aware that technicians manage basic procedures, such as drawing blood, taking temperatures, and preparing your pet for surgery, so it’s important that you are familiar with the technician’s ability to manage your pet and work with you.
Range of services that the clinic provides
Are x-rays, ultrasounds, bloodwork, and other diagnostics done in-house or referred to a specialist?
How fast are the test results received?
Does the veterinarian offer a broad assortment of medications?
Does your pet take a vet with special interests, like geriatrics?
What experience does the vet have with any specific medical need your pet may have, such as diabetes, allergies, or chronic pain?
What is the veterinarian’s policy on vaccinations for kittens, puppies and adult cats and dogs? Many veterinarians are getting away from automatic annual vaccinations for adults due to evidence that immunization lasts more than 12 months for some vaccines, and research has linked too-frequent vaccinations with immune system disorders.
Other things to consider
The veterinarian should perform a test on your pet during the initial trip. This should include feeling the pet over for suspicious lumps or bumps, checking the ears and eyes, listening to the heart, and checking the teeth.
The veterinarian should ask you questions regarding the pet’s general health and ask for your 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?
Can you trust the veterinarian? Most importantly, what do your instincts tell you?
If you’re transferring your pet from another clinic, make sure to transfer your pet’s health records.