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Choosing a Vet

By: Sandy Bolan - Updated: 2 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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When pets are not feeling well, they can't tell us what is wrong, and as their owners, it is important for us to find a vet that is able to communicate with the pet and us.

Do not conduct your vet search when your pet is ill and in need of immediate medical attention. Choosing the right clinic takes due diligence on your part.

Where to Start When Choosing a Vet

The best place to start your search is with your friends, especially those who treat their pets the same way you do. You should also quiz other family members, local humane societies/shelters and kennels.

If you have a very rare breed of cat or dog, a rabbit or some other pet that is not canine or feline, you may be limited in the number of vet clinics to choose from. If there is only one reptile vet in your area, for example, and you have not heard many positive things about them, do not feel you have to go there. Look for a reptile specialist in the next town. Do not choose your surgery solely based on location, but on quality of care, even if it means driving 20 minutes instead of five minutes to get there.

Ask Around

Ask everyone what he or she likes about his or her clinic. As well, get them to tell you about any emergency situations they may have gone through with their pet and vet. Were they compassionate and informative? Filter through all of this information to help narrow down your choice of vet clinic.

Once you have narrowed the field, call them up to ask them some general questions such as the services they provide, hours and number of vets on staff and their specialities (if any). Ask them what tests they will conduct in-house and which ones, if any, they send out. Modern day clinics will do x-rays on site, however, some may send out stool samples, for example, for parasite testing. Also ask about their fee schedule. While the cost of our pet's care isn't as important as the quality, it is something you should know about up front, especially since vet fees are unregulated.

This phone call not only provides you with the above information, but it also gives you an indication of their customer service. No matter our occupation, we like to work with like-minded people. If the front-end person is rude and rushed, then there is a pretty good chance the vet will also be rude and rushed when examining your pet.

Take a Tour

Once you have chosen one or two clinics you think will suit your needs, plan a visit. During your initial phone call, explain you are looking for a vet clinic and would like to check the facility out before making your final decision. Most clinics will have no problem with this. However, when you make that visit, do not bring a pet and do not expect to be given a lot of time with the doctors. After all, they have patients to care for.

When at the clinic, how were you greeted? A polite hello will go a long way. Check out its cleanliness, as well as its magazines and notice board. You want a clinic that has up-to-date information available for its patients to look at - this means the doctors are also up-to-date on the latest veterinary findings. Is there a notice board offering free pets to good homes, community information or is there just a business licence and office hours? Are there thank you cards from clients? What better reference than a card from a pet owner saying thank you for the care the clinic provided to them and their animal.

Final Decision

Make your final decision based on all of the information you gathered, as well as your gut feeling. When you walk into an office, you will know right away if that clinic is for you or not just by its atmosphere.

It takes time to build a relationship with any physician, so don't be afraid to ask lots of questions, related to the reason for the visit, during the exam, and have the vet explain things to you that you don't understand. Unless you understand medical jargon, a good vet will always explain your pet's situation to you in layman's terms. To build an even better relationship, consider booking non-emergency appointments with the same vet.

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