Your veterinarian may be the second most important individual in your dog's life. Finding and choosing the right one will help you keep your dog healthy and will give you peace of mind. But don't wait until you have a medical emergency to start looking! Here are some suggestions to help you find the right vet for you.
Often the best way to find a good veterinarian is to ask your pet-owning friends, neighbors or co-workers for a referral. Ask them what they like and don't like about their vet. If you have recently moved, ask your previous veterinarian for a referral in your new area, or check with your local veterinary association for referrals. In any case, try to choose a vet that is near your home. (See below for a list of national veterinary associations.)
What is important to you? If you feel that personalized service is essential, choose a small clinic with one or two doctors. Small clinics can provide you with the opportunity to develop a rapport with the vet and the staff. In complex medical cases, however, they may refer you to a veterinary specialist at a larger clinic or hospital.
A larger clinic may offer the benefit of staff veterinary specialists and advanced technical equipment, but you may not be able to see the same vet every time.
Some veterinary facilities provide boarding and/or dog grooming services. If this is important to you, choose a clinic that offers these options.
Once you have decided that a particular clinic meets your needs, make an appointment to meet the veterinarian and visit the facilities. A crowded waiting room is often an indicator of satisfied clients. Try to observe the attitude of the veterinarian and staff to the animals and clients.
Ask questions to determine how the vet and clinic stand on the concept of preventative care, etc. Can you get a same-day appointment for a sick animal if needed? How much of the practice is dedicated to dogs? Do their ideas on care concur with yours? Does this vet explain things clearly? Do you feel comfortable?
Your goal with a veterinarian should be to establish a working relationship based on trust. Follow your instincts. You need to feel at ease with the care, attitude and services provided by the veterinarian and the clinic.
National Veterinary Associations:
For referrals to veterinarians, write or call these organizations.
Please note: These associations are for referrals only and cannot give fee lists or qualitative judgment about the various clinics.
American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N. Meacham Road
Schaumberg, IL 60173
Hours are M-F 8:30 AM - 4:45 PM CT
American Animal Hospital Association
PO Box 150899
Denver, CO 80215-0899
Hours are M-F 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM MT