Finding a veterinarian is one of the most important parts of pet ownership. Not only finding a good veterinarian, but also finding an animal hospital with good technicians and support staff. This is key to a long and healthy pet/family relationship — your pets are members of your family, after all!
Search your zip code on Veterinarians.com and find a vet in your local area. Look at what’s available and consider your options. Think about the services offered at each animal hospital near you and make sure they have everything you might need. Maybe even go for an informational visit.
The American Animal Hospital Association has a useful list of questions to ask when looking for a veterinary practice, including “Do you have a large network of specialists?” and “What is your response to emergencies?” Other good questions to ask are “How many veterinarians are there?” “Are X-rays, ultrasound, and other tests done in house?”
Consider the the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff and doctors. Of course, you want your veterinarian to be empathetic, caring, and a good listener. Find out about the veterinarian’s ethical policies. It’s important to see whether you and your vet share the same opinions.
Before making your final decision, keep in mind that location and convenience are important factors to consider.
Financial worries shouldn’t compromise veterinary care. Many veterinarians have affordable payment plans, and can advise you as to which pet insurance works best for you. Pet insurance is an integral part of maintaining a healthy pet.
When you find the right veterinarian for you and your pet, take them for a first-time wellness exam, and bring all medical records along with you. You don’t want the first time you see a new vet to be when your pet is sick!
Veterinarians are required (by federal law) to establish a veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) in order to treat a patient. It’s a critical part of providing quality care and is established the first time a veterinarian sees your pet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a VCPR requires the following:
- The veterinarian is responsible for making all medical judgements in terms of the health of the patient and the need for treatment. The owner or caretaker agrees to follow the veterinarian’s instructions.
- The veterinarian has enough knowledge of the patient to make at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of its medical condition. The veterinarian has examined the patient within the past 12 months.
- The veterinarian is available for ongoing care of the patient or has arranged for emergency coverage or continuing care and treatment of the animal.
- The veterinarian completes medical records, including assessment and treatment plan, in such a way that another veterinarian could proceed with the continuity of care and treatment of that patient.
During your first visit, ask about the regular care your pet would need, and where you would take them if there’s an emergency, or they need care after hours. It’s also a good idea to ask about who you should see if your regular veterinarian isn’t available. Prepare for as much as you can in advance.
Conduct the relationship with your vet as if you would your own doctor. Make sure to show up to your pet’s appointments on time!
Of course, nothing’s perfect. If you feel that the vet you picked doesn’t address your pet’s needs, or you question their recommendations, you may want to find a new one.
As a pet parent, it’s up to you to make the right choices for veterinary treatments. The best way to keep your pets happy and healthy is to have annual check-ups, maintain vaccine schedules and dental care.