While at first glance, it may seem like a simple task, finding a vet for your dog is one of the most important things you will do in their lifetime. Much like finding your own personal physician, your dog’s doctor will do everything from giving them regular shots and checkups to giving you advice on food, treating illnesses and injuries, and helping you maintain their health as they age.
Many factors go into choosing the right vet for your dog. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you make the best choice for you and your pet.
Ask for Recommendations from Other Pet Owners
While this sounds like a simple process, do more than just ask other dog owners who their vet is and if they like them. Look for pet owners with your breed of dog or a similar one. Also, ask simple questions about veterinary care. Many owners can be lackadaisical with their pet care, often skip checkups, and don’t visit the vet unless their pet has an injury or illness.
This means you need to make sure you are talking about similar types of veterinary care. An answer of “they’re fine, I like them,” really doesn’t help you make an informed decision.
Check out Their Website and Online Reviews
A word of caution here: be sure you do these things in the proper order. First, check out the veterinarian or the clinic you are looking at on their own website. This should tell you things like hours, things they specialize in if any, and any certifications and affiliations they might have.
For example, it is a good thing if they are accredited by theAmerican Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). This tells you they must meet certain professional standards, but look for other affiliations as well, especially with any breeders associations related to your type of dog. Also, look at who they partner with for things like dog food endorsements. This will tell you a lot about whether or not your values align.
Once you have thoroughly checked out their website, move on to checking their reviews on places like Google and Facebook. Just keep some things in mind as you do.
- Most reviews will be negative much of the time. People are more inclined to leave a review when they are unhappy rather than satisfied.
- Read reviews carefully, and try to determine the source of the complaint. It’s often that the owner and the vet just aren’t a fit for each other.
- Pay special attention to good reviews and those that are specific in nature. General reviews say little about whether you will be compatible with the vet or not.
Never be afraid to ask the vet about online reviews when you meet up with them. They should be reading and even responding to these reviews to try to resolve situations. Make sure the vet or clinic has a good answer for these concerns. If they don’t, it may be time to move on in your search.
Location, Location, Location
Where is the vet located? It is convenient to your home? If not, you might be less inclined to go. We are creatures of convenience and habit, and it is a good idea to make sure you have a vet that is close by.
Another thing to consider in looking at a clinic’s location is the type of animals they specialize in. A vet in the middle of the city may focus more on smaller dogs and even cats that are better suited to apartment living. A country vet may work more with horses and larger dogs better suited to a farm or outdoor lifestyle.
Treatment of a working dog and one that spends much of its time outside and an indoor dog that seldom ventures out except on walks is different, and your dog will encounter different health concerns and challenges. It is therefore important to choose a vet that knows and works with your type of dog.
In Case of Emergency
While some clinics have their own emergency departments, many refer their patients out to other clinics after hours. Be sure that when you are checking out a vet for your dog, you know what that vet recommends in case something goes wrong when they are not in the office.
You will likely find that like your family practice doctor, your clinic will have a recommended pet ER where your vet also practices and shares duties with other local vets. In the case of a country vet in a more rural area, you may be given an on-call cell number to get ahold of the vet in person or someone who is on call for them.
The key is to choose something you’re comfortable with. If you want a clinic that also handles emergent care, be sure to choose one that has an on-call department twenty-four hours a day.
The Meet and Greet
The final and arguably most important step in the process is that you meet the vet and that you do so with your dog. The two of you need to “click” with the vet and their staff. Even though your dog is a “people” dog and vets are often dog people, that does not mean that the two of them will get along.
Think about it. You don’t like everyone you meet, and your dog won’t either. Don’t expect them to. Also, you may not like the vet or some of their staff. Sometimes personalities just clash. Be open to walking away to find another vet if you need to. This meeting is vital, as your relationship with your dog’s doctor may last their entire lifetime.
If you do move from where you now live, go through this process again until you find a vet that both you and your dog can agree on.
Finding a vet for your dog is just as important as your own physician. Be sure to dedicate the time and effort to the process that it deserves. You’ll both be happier for it.
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