Lots of pet owners stress about finding a veterinarian. If you’re one of them, don’t worry! Finding the right is much more than just seeking out a medical professional. You need an expert in veterinary medicine and someone who will meet the needs of you and your pet. Choosing the best veterinarian is time consuming, but it will pay off big in the long run.
The absolute worst time to look for a veterinarian is when you need one. If your dog is in pain or something is wrong with her and you don’t know what to do, you’re going to be more likely to settle for the first vet that you find. You’ll want to find a vet as soon as possible to make sure your pet gets cared for quickly.
Planning ahead is the best thing that you can do. Start researching veterinarians in your area before you get a dog. If you’ve decided to adopt a pet, you know you’ll need a vet. Why wait to find the right veterinarian until you’re crunched for time?
8 Resources for Choosing the Best Veterinarian
1. The Humane Society of the United States
Narrowing your veterinary search isn't difficult. Once you weed out the ones that don't have the proper credentials, you'll already be well on your way. As The Humane Society of the United States explains in this article, there are a few specific credentials that you'll need to look for. If you're in search of a veterinary specialist there are other certifications that you need to ask about.
- Check for accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA accreditation means that a veterinary hospital has voluntarily pursued and met AAHA's standards in the areas of facility, equipment and quality care. If you're looking for a specialist, ask about board certification. This means the vet has studied an additional two to four years in the specialty area and passed a rigorous exam.
2. The American Animal Hospital Association
As the previous article mentions, it is best to check for a vet that is accredited by the AAHA. Veterinary hospitals do not need this accreditation to practice veterinary medicine, but if they put in the work to become accredited it shows that they are committed to meeting standards in many different areas of the field.
An AAHA accreditation means that the veterinary hospital is willing to prove that they provide safe, high-quality care for all of their patients. If you're curious about what it takes to be accredited by the organization, check out this article on their website.
- Hospitals that are accredited by AAHA meet high veterinary care standards. Each hospital voluntarily completes a detailed evaluation of its services and equipment. Then a practice consultant thoroughly evaluates the hospital to make sure it meets AAHA’s high standards in the areas of:
- emergency services
- pain management
- contagious diseases
- surgery and anesthesia…
3. The American Veterinary Medical Association weighs in
The American Veterinary Medical Association is a nonprofit association that represents more than 88,000 veterinarians working in private and corporate practices, industry, government, uniformed services and academia. The organization was created to act as a collective voice for its members and for the veterinary profession.
They've created this article on choosing the best veterinarian, in which they discuss asking members of a breed club or special interest group for advice.
- If you have a purebred dog or cat, area breed clubs or rescues can be a good source of information. They have often established a strong relationship with a practice that is very familiar with the potential health-related problems for the particular breed.
4. Prevention discusses choosing the best veterinarian
Prevention.com offers all kinds of health tips and tricks for both humans and pets on their website. In this post by Rebecca Skloot, the author talks about her own bad experience with a veterinarian and the how she went about choosing the best veterinarian after that. The post is easy to read and flows very well. It's almost as if you can hear Skloot telling you her story.
- First, I asked myself, What do all good vets I know have in common?They didn't stop learning after vet school—they did internships and took continuing education classes.
5. Tips from the Animal Medical Center
Located in New York City, the Animal Medical Center is a nonprofit hospital for companion animals and an institute for veterinary education and research. They discuss the importance of location when choosing the best veterinarian in this post on their website. You may not think that location is a big factor, but you might want to reconsider.
- A new puppy will need several rounds of vaccines and a spay or neuter surgery requiring transporting the pet to and from the hospital on multiple occasions. But if you have a parrot, the closest veterinary hospital may not have a veterinarian with expertise in avian medicine and you will need to choose a clinic providing bird care, not necessarily the closest clinic.Proximity plays an even more important role in the selection of an emergency hospital. When your pet is hit by a car and in shock, has serious bleeding or can’t breathe, time is of the essence and the closest animal ER is the best ER for your pet.
6. Vets For Pets
If you've never checked out the Vets For Pets website, this is a great time. Their website provides veterinarian and veterinary animal hospital news, and it is a great resource for pet owners. This article on their site discusses choosing the best veterinarian, and it brings up a great point that many dog owners may overlook at first.
Most pet parents assume that all veterinary hospitals can perform the same services. This actually isn't true.
- Find out if it is a full service veterinary hospital. If it is a veterinary or animal clinic, you may need to take it somewhere else for emergencies, diagnostics, special care or surgery. You will have to decide how important it is to you to have all services available in one location?
7. Pet Rescue Center, Inc. explains what to look for when visiting a vet
Just like selecting a daycare for your child or a healthcare provider for yourself, you need to go in for a visit to the vet's office and check things out. This article from Pet Rescue, Inc. discusses the many things that you should be looking for and also offers some additional tips on choosing the best veterinarian.
- Is the facility clean and comfortable?•Are the technicians and front office and other clinic employees friendly and professional?•How many veterinarians are available at the clinic?•Are you able to choose one as your permanent vet so that you can see the same individual each time you come in?
8. Questions to ask a potential veterinarian
Of course, your selection needs to be based on the vet themselves as much as their credentials and the services they offer. It's important to set up an interview with all the potential veterinarians you're looking into. This will allow you to get to know them better and get a feel for their bedside manner.
Bellwether Harbor gives some great pointers on interviewing a vet and some sample questions that you may want to ask.
- Some suggested questions to ask…
- How many doctors are currently at your practice?
- Can I request to see a specific one or would I be scheduled with the first available?
- What are your open hours?
- Are visits by appointment only or do you accept walk-ins?
- What are your emergency policies?