Finding a vet who can check your dog’s general health and give vaccinations is one thing, but finding a GOOD vet you can depend on to save your dog’s life is quite another. Choosing a quality vet for your dog may take a bit of effort on your part but it will be well worth it in the long run.
We’ll take a look at how to find a good vet for your pup and give you some advice on what to look for and what questions to ask to get the right information.
How to Choose a Vet for Your Dog
First, consider your resources. The telephone book (does anyone still have one of these?) and internet will list basic information about your local vets. However, they will reveal little about the veterinarian’s personality, education, standards of service or quality of care. A little investigation is necessary.
A quick Google search will bring up the vets near you. And you can start with the Google reviews to help narrow down your search.
When looking at online reviews remember to look at the bad reviews (and the exceptionally good ones) with a touch of skepticism. Look for trends rather than taking the word of just one or two reviewers.
Here are some great sites that can help you make a choice:
- Angie’s List will show you ratings and reviews for vets near you. You do have to sign up to get the information, but it is free to do so.
- The website VetRatingz is a collection of reviews by both happy – and unhappy – clients. With 9,400 ratings so far, it may be helpful if a particular vet has several ratings.
- The AVMA has some great information on finding a good veterinarian and lists all specialties on its website. A vet specialist should have graduate work in his specialty and be certified by a veterinary board.
- The American Animal Hospital Association inspects and accredits U.S. vet clinics, but only one in seven has been accredited. Some individual states perform inspections. Check with these agencies.
Once you have narrowed your search down to a few vets you can do a name search and look for further reviews. They may come up on Yelp and if they have a Facebook page you can take a good look at that for reviews and feedback as well.
You may wish to also verify the vet’s license in your state and check on any complaints that may have been filed against him. Not all states provide online verifications, but an up-to-date list of those that do can be found here. Otherwise, you may be able to call your state’s licensing board for veterinarians.
How to Find the Right Vet
Once you have made a choice you can make an appointment for an introductory consultation with your vet of choice. Prepare direct questions for the interview. Here are some example questions to help you make your decision:
- How many years have you practiced?
- What veterinary school did you attend? Year of graduation?
- What was your rank in your graduating class? (Hey, they can’t all be #1!)
- What veterinary publications do you read regularly?
- How do you otherwise stay up-to-date with modern theory and practice?
- Do you have a specialty?
- Where did you receive your specialty training?
- How many [your breed, i.e. Miniature Schnauzers] are regular clients?
- What are the particular tendencies of [your breed, i.e. Boxers] to various illnesses?*
- What is your recommended vaccination protocol?**
- Do you do your own lab testing here or is everything sent out?
- What kind of training is required of your technicians?
- Does a vet or a vet tech stay overnight with sick patients?
- Will I be able to reach you by telephone at night or on weekends?
- What is your procedure for handling emergencies off-hours?
*Be informed of these illnesses before you ask the vet!
**Current protocol for core vaccinations is every three years – and rabies as prescribed by your state’s law.
Don’t Forget to Check the Vet’s Facilities
You should also take a good look around the clinic and facilities. Here are some mental notes to think about as you tour the facility:
- Is the clinic clean – including reception area floors and exam tables?
- Do you notice any unusual or unpleasant odor?
- Does the waiting area allow enough space for nervous pets to be separated during busy periods?
- Does the staff try to separate contagious pets into an isolation area?
- Is the confinement area (for sick or surgical patients) clean, well-lit, and easily observed by staff?
- Are there exercise runs outside for the boarded patients? Are they clean?
- Do the vet technicians have their own area for quiet, undisturbed testing?
- What is the cost of an office visit? How does it compare to vets in the region?
- Is the vet courteous and forthcoming with his answers or does he seem annoyed or hurried to finish the interview?
If you are not comfortable with the vet or the facility after your visit then you should follow your instincts and try another.
Entrust Your Dog’s Care to the Best Vet
Once you have done all of this you should be able to make an informed decision and be able to choose the right vet for your dog. You need to be happy with your choice and you and your pup need to be able to have a good relationship with the vet and their staff.
For more on keeping your dog healthy and happy check out these articles: