8 Tips for Choosing a Veterinarian
For a first time dog owner, choosing a veterinarian is one of the first major decisions you will need to make. Your vet will be responsible for helping you make the right choices in order to keep your pet healthy. Hopefully you won’t be in the vet’s office too often but sticking to routine vet visits and health checks is a great way to give your vet the opportunity to diagnose and treat any issues before they progress. Trusting your vet, liking your vet and feeling confident in their staff and facilities is a great way to set yourself up for success as a pet parent. This list of 8 things to consider is here to help make your decision when choosing a veterinarian as easy as paw-sible!
1. Ask Around
Whether you are looking for your first vet or looking for a new vet, friends and neighbors are a great resource. Don’t be shy when asking for candid reviews of the vets they use. There are often a few local vet clinics and getting advice from others is a great way to add to your research as you consider what factors are most important to you.
2. Clean Office
When you visit the vet’s office for the first time, take into consideration how it looks and smells. Are the floors and countertops clean? Does the front office smell clean? Don’t be afraid to ask if you can visit an examination room. All vet’s offices have different policies that are often in place to keep the animals in their care safe. It’s likely that you wont be able to have access to the clinic behind the scenes so use your best judgment to sniff and see what you can. Just like a human doctors office, if a vet’s office isn’t clean, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
3. Friendly Staff
Most of your interactions at the vet’s office are going to be with the front office. When you call to make an appointment, is the staff friendly and helpful? Are you able to easily interpret your invoices and pay your bill either online, over the phone or in person? Does the staff seem happy? Just like any other business, a vet’s office is a place of work and if the staff are happy and helpful, that is often a good sign that the vet(s) running the clinic are also friendly and professional.
If you need your vet in an emergency, it’s helpful to live not too far from the office. When something goes wrong with your pet, every extra minute in the car can feel agonizingly long. Finding a vet’s office that is local to where you live is great but not worth sacrificing the quality of staff and care. If your local vet’s office does not have great reviews or check your boxes, driving a few extra minutes to a clinic you trust is worth it.
You know your dog best and being comfortable asking your vet and their staff any question (even ones that feel silly) is a really important aspect of looking out for your dog’s health. Notifying your vet of any strange, unusual or uncharacteristic behavior can help your vet spot early signs of distress or trouble. Asking your vet questions is a great way to learn more about your dog’s body, mind and health.
6. Hours of Operation
Most veterinary offices are not open 24/7. If your local vet is open 24/7 consider yourself lucky! If not, make sure to ask about the office hours and ask the staff for a referral to an emergency 24/7 clinic, just in case.
7. Extra Services
Does the office offer a boarding or day care clinic? While the HIMMD staff always recommends that you try to get a dog sitter before you consider boarding your dog at a kennel or vet’s office, if you have a dog with health needs, boarding them at the vet’s when you’re away may be the most reliable and safe place for your dog to be. Asking the office if they offer any extra services like boarding or day care is a good thing to do.
8. Trust your gut
You are your dog’s best advocate and looking out for their health is an important part of being a pet parent. Even if a potential vet’s office checks off your other boxes, if you get a bad gut feeling, keep looking! You should never feel pressured into choosing one veterinarian over the other and your gut instinct about a clinic is just as important to consider as recommendations, a clean office, friendly staff, location, comfortability, office hours, and extra services. If you trust your gut and do your homework, finding a great veterinarian should be simple and will be worth all the effort!
Keep Your Cool
Our dogs often look to us to inform the way they act in new situation. If you remain cool and calm at the vet's office, chances are your dog will follow your lead and relax too.