If you're choosing a veterinarian, start here!



Choosing a veterinarian can be a nightmare. There are so many questions but too few answers. This article will help you work through the investigation and decision process so that you make the right veterinary choice for you and your pet.

Veterinarians helping a dog in surgery

The Challenge of Choosing a Veterinarian

If you’re reading this article then obviously you care about your pet. You’re looking for good information on picking the right veterinarian and getting the best veterinary services. I would anticipate that like thousands of other pet owners, you’re probably anxious. This is perfectly reasonable but you should be relaxed about this process. You’re not alone and there is some good advice below.

The basic challenge is finding a good veterinary hospital or clinic, with a great doctor or set of doctors. Another challenge is finding time to establish a long term relationship with these people. Still another challenge is finding a good match for your pet. Personalities and dispositions matter.

There are many veterinary specialists. If you’re worried about excellent care, and you have an exotic pet for example, consider working with a knowledgeable specialist. Many veterinarians also focus on certain procedures or activities, such as surgery and cardiology. If you’re thinking that veterinarians are like human doctors, you’re exactly right. They vary in many ways, from education to personality, to equipment, to philosophy.

This is why the very first step of choosing a veterinarian is critical: Know what you want before you begin searching! Make a detailed list of things that are critical to you and your pet. For example, consider the location of the veterinary clinic or office, the type of doctor you’d like to work with, and the variety of services you need to have. Have this information ready ahead of time so you choose a veterinarian based on your principles.

Evaluating the Veterinary Office

You cannot overlook the veterinary office when you choose a veterinarian. First, location will probably be a major consideration. You need quick and reasonable access. It is easier to take a dog or cat to a veterinary down the road than in another city. Easy access is good access. Location isn’t your only consideration but it an important one.

Another consideration is that the veterinary office should be neat and clean. Is the outside clean? How about the inside? Does a dirty office mean you’ll encounter careless doctors? Perhaps.

Finally, when choosing a veterinarian, think about the layout and design of the office. Consider how your cat might react to a waiting room full of dogs. Is the office pet friendly or is it simply set up like an assembly line? Be sure you’re comfortable with the office or your pet probably won’t be comfortable. Go with your gut when choosing a veterinarian.

Here are some other considerations:

  • Are you looking for a small veterinary office versus clinic or hospital?
  • Are there proper emergency services and staff to support sudden problems?
  • Can the office easily house your pet overnight if needed?
  • Does the office have up to date equipment? Do they have quality of tools?
  • Does the office have a lab or diagnostic facilities or is it outsourced?

Choosing the Right Veterinarian

There are several factors to consider when choosing a veterinarian. Are they flexible? What kind of medical coverage do they provide? What are the costs and what are the services? And most important, is the veterinarian any good? Let dig into these questions.

Is the veterinary clinic or hospital flexible? Is your doctor flexible? You’ll want to consider their hours. Are they open in the evenings and after hours? Do they have a drop off service? Does the office provide any sort of house calls if you cannot easily leave your home?

There are also the considerations around veterinary coverage. Specifically, you’ll want to know about the number of people on staff. Are the right people available at the right time? Is the support staff available and properly educated and licensed? Most important, you’ll want to be involved with friendly and caring people. Seek out good people.

Obviously you need to be conscious of costs. When choosing a veterinarian, ask yourself if the fees fair in relation to the services rendered? It is important that the quality is high with respect to the costs. You might also want to think about pet medical insurance offered by veterinarians.

When choosing a veterinarian, the final decision might come down to specific characteristics or personality of the doctor. Some pets work better with one gender or another. What does your pet like? You might think about working with someone with a ton of practical experience or maybe you’d prefer working with a recent graduate who has immediate knowledge of the newest techniques.

There’s more to consider. For example, how does the doctor feel about unconventional therapies? How about the doctor’s stance on animal rights and euthanasia? Along these lines, does the doctor have any skills or attributes that you really like? Above all, does the veterinarian meet the needs of your pet?

If you plan ahead, and you know what you want, choosing a veterinarian isn’t too difficult. Look at the office, talk to the staff, consider the costs, and talk to the doctors. In no time, everything will work out. Good luck!

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