Americans really love their pets and want what’s best for their rescues, foster pets, and breeder pets. During the recent housebound times, many people have added furry friends to their families because they have the extra time to devote to a puppy or kitty. We love them and that motivates us to seek out the best care for them, like we would for our children.
Once you have your four-legged friend, especially if they are a new pet, it’s time to get them checked out by a vet. But how do you pick one? Choosing a veterinarian is one of the most vital decisions you’ll make for your cat or dog’s well-being. And you should be selective in picking the right practitioner.
Before you start visiting potential vets, make a list of priorities for you and your pet. Start with the pet: What is the breed, age of your pet, and any health concerns? There are some veterinarians who specialize in geriatric care. If you’ve just adopted a puppy or a kitten, find a good general veterinarian who can be there as your pet grows up. When you first start out, ask friends, family and neighbors who they use for their pets. Sometimes word-of-mouth is the best testament to a practice’s integrity and philosophy.
Here are some things to think about:
- Emergency backup—Who can you call on nights and weekends when your vet may not be available? Ask for phone numbers and directions.
- Location from your home—It’s very convenient to have your doctor within 10-15 minutes of your home, especially if there’s something urgent. Hours of operation are important, too. Some may even offer weekend hours.
- Average wait time for a non-emergency appointment—Is it important that you call and get in today? At some veterinarians, that could be possible. It’ a good question to ask.
- What are their fees? Compare charges and avoid deals that look too good to be true. Does the practice offer payment plans or financial assistance if need be? Does your pet have insurance, and will the practice accept the plan? You may even want to check out a low-rate personal loan to get you over the hurdle.
- Is the practice accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)? The AAHA evaluates veterinary practices on standards for care, pain management surgery, facilities, diagnostic imaging and more. Accreditation shows a commitment to maintaining high standards of care for your pet.
- Check with local breed clubs for their recommendations, be it a cat or dog.
- What services does the vet offer in-house? Check for services such as x-rays, dental care, and ultrasounds; as well as radiology, and surgical services such as neutering, orthopedic procedures and chemotherapy.
- What are the Yelp ratings on your prospective vet? Take a look at the reviews and see what you think.
- Does the practice have up-to-date facilities with advanced technology and professional care?
- Does the size of the practice matter? A smaller office may seem more personal, where you can see the same doctor and staff and build relationships. Some larger veterinary hospitals offer greater flexibility in scheduling and incredible care. You have many options.
- How is the office kept? Is it clean and well-maintained? Are there separate waiting areas for dogs and cats?
- Do the staff and doctors offer advice by phone? That could be a real plus if you are feeling anxious post-surgery or any other pet condition you may be concerned about.
Whomever you choose for your veterinarian, we hope these tips have given you topics for conversation for choosing the new—and hopefully long-term—relationship in your pet’s life.
Resources: Rover.com; American Kennel Club; Webmd.com; Checkbook.org