In general, today’s pets live longer, healthier, happier lives, with studies showing that the average life expectancy of dogs increased from 10.5 years to 11.8 years between 2002 and 2016.
The availability of high-quality veterinary care has increased and advanced over the past several years, increasing our knowledge of preventative care and providing treatments at the first sign of an illness.
While yes, veterinarians can be quite pricey, it’s not advisable to simply go with the cheapest one and expect the highest quality of care. It’s important to carefully select a veterinarian who will become your beloved pet’s health care provider, based on several important factors.
Your pet is a valuable member of your family, and it’s important to use the same care and criteria you would use in selecting a physician for yourself or a close family member. So, what do you look for in finding a good veterinarian, and how do you narrow down the list to find the most suitable one for both you and your furry friend?
In this article, we take a look at how to find a good veterinarian, so you can be sure that you feel comfortable in establishing a long-term veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
Why Is It Important To Stick With One Veterinarian?
While nobody expects you to drive those two and a half hours back to your previous veterinarian if you’ve moved, in general, you should try to stick with the same veterinarian if you can. Bouncing your pup back from one vet to another, depending on price and procedure, can be confusing and stressful, both for your dog and for the medical records that need to travel along with them.
Your veterinarian will keep a full record of your pet’s ongoing medical history, including information and records regarding their preventive care, vaccination information, heartworm test results, medications, deworming, and your pet’s weight. The vet’s pet records will also include other valuable information as well, including illnesses, surgical procedures, and reactions to medications.
Going to the vet is often a nerve-wracking experience for any pet, so establishing both trust and a routine with one veterinarian will help to ease your pup’s fears about going to the vet.
Where to Look for a Veterinarian
Whether this is your first pet, you’ve moved locations, or your current veterinarian clinic isn’t meeting yours or your dog’s needs, it’s important to do some research when searching for a new veterinarian. Here are our tips on how to find a good vet for you and your furry best friend:
Ask a Friend
Asking advice from a friend or family member is often the best way to find a new veterinary specialist. While this may not be helpful if you’re the only one that lives in your new area, your friends and family have usually picked their veterinarian for a good reason and can tell you about their experiences with them.
If you believe that their expectations of good service are similar to yours, you can always schedule a visit to scope out the practice so you can ask questions and evaluate it for yourself.
Breeders and Special Interest Groups
Purebred dogs often have a specific slew of potential health issues that may come along with their particular breed. This makes local breeders, special interest groups, and rescues a great source of information when choosing a veterinarian for your pet.
More often than not, breed-specific groups have established a strong relationship with a certain practice and can direct you to a vet that already thoroughly understands the potential health challenges that come along with owning that particular breed.
Internet Search and Reviews
While choosing a vet purely by selecting the first listing that pops up in an internet search is certainly not the way to go, it can be a useful source of information to narrow down your list of local veterinarians.
Internet listings will normally be accompanied by helpful reviews, with some displaying in detail the experience they’ve had with that partial vet and why they would and wouldn’t go back.
Unless a veterinary practice is getting a significant amount of negative reviews, it can be unwise to judge their business solely from internet reviews. Personal references are generally a more reliable source for finding a great veterinarian.
Online Review Sites
Sites like Yelp or Nextdoor.com are a good source for finding out which vets other locals in your area recommend. I have found a lot of service providers through Nextdoor.
Your Current Veterinarian
Of course, you’re not going to want to ask your current veterinarian for a review if the reason that you’re leaving them is that they’re not up to par with your expectations – it’s probably best to avoid that awkward conversation.
However, asking your current veterinarian for a recommendation if you’re moving to another city or state is a perfect way to find a fantastic new health care provider for your pet that you can trust. Your current veterinarian will be more than happy to directly send over your pet’s complete medical history to a new practice for you.
Considerations When Visiting a Veterinary Practice
After you’ve narrowed down your list of possible health care providers for your pet, visiting the veterinary practice is ideal for making sure that you’re a good fit for each other.
Whether or not you’ve chosen to visit a particular practice due to a glowing recommendation from your best friend, different pet owners have different needs, and their reasons for selecting a veterinarian for their pets may differ from yours.
The following are important considerations that should be taken into account when visiting a veterinary practice, so you can be confident that you’ve found the best fit for you and your pet.
Make Sure the Personnel Is Licensed
While this should most definitely be a given, that is not always the case. Some veterinarians may have (temporarily) gotten away with not being licensed in your particular state, as well as their veterinary technicians. It is perfectly reasonable to ask to see their licenses or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information.
Consider the Cost and Location
We all want the absolute best for our pets – but unfortunately, we can’t always afford the most top-notch veterinary practice. Make sure a vet’s costs fit into your budget before you can commit to them. Location is also exceptionally important in case of an emergency, so finding the best veterinary practice that’s less than an hour away from you at most is ideal.
Look for a Clean Facility
As with any medical practice, it’s important to make sure that a veterinary practice’s facility is clean. It is not a good sign for the practice’s integrity if you notice that an environment that is supposed to be safe and sterile is dingy and dirty.
Are You Ready to Find a Good Veterinarian?
Finding a good veterinarian doesn’t have to be a chore. Signing your furry best friend up with their new health care provider can be a fun and rewarding experience for you both. It will allow you to feel confident that your pup is in the best hands in the event of a health scare (which hopefully will be very few and far between!).
It’s important to remember that your veterinarian will play a significant role in your pet’s life, so keep looking until you find the best one for your pet.
Are there any tips not listed here? Add them in the comments!