How to Choose the Right Veterinarian

So you’ve got your new pet – but now you need to find the right veterinarian. The search for a veterinarian can pose a difficult decision for first-time pet owners.

Don’t let this task frighten you, though; veterinarians and their teams want to answer your questions and, ultimately, get and maintain your business. In order to ferret out the best veterinarian for your new pet, make sure you ask the right questions and consider all the possibilities.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends looking for a veterinarian before you need one. Instead, they suggest starting with “a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, animal shelter worker, dog trainer, groomer, boarding kennel employee or pet sitter.”

Other things to take into consideration when choosing your pet’s medical professional are if they work at a hospital that’s been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. According to AAHA, animal hospitals that choose to become accredited “show they are committed to meeting – or exceeding – standards in a variety of different areas (approximately 900 standards, to be exact).”

Hospitals that choose to become accredited volunteer to submit an evaluation form, which provides clear-cut information on the state of services and equipment available at the establishment. AAHA’s areas in which they evaluate include emergency services, pain management, surgery and anesthesia, dentistry, contagious diseases and more. Check out this AAHA Hospital Locator, which lists accredited hospitals near you.

For pets with special care needs (including exotics), you may need to find a veterinarian with additional experience in specific areas of specialization, which means an acquired board certification in that field. After you’ve whittled your choices down, the Humane Society recommends scheduling a facility visit, where you can tour the premises, meet the veterinarian technician(s) and veterinarian(s) on staff, and learn about the policies in place.

Some questions (provided by the Humane Society) to ask include:

  • Is the facility clean, comfortable and well-organized?
  • Are appointments required?
  • How many veterinarians are in the practice?
  • Are there technicians or other professional staff members?
  • Are dog and cat holding locations in separate areas of the building?
  • Is the staff courteous, competent, calm, caring and do they communicate effectively?
  • Are diagnostic tests done in-house or referred to a specialist?
  • What emergency services are available?
  • Do the veterinarians have special interests (ex: geriatrics, behavior, dental, or oncology)?
  • Is the location convenient?
  • Do the fees fit your budget, and are discounts for senior citizens or multi-pet households available?

Don’t be shy when it comes to picking your new veterinarian as they are your go-to expert on your animal’s health and well-being.