Choosing a veterinarian can have a big impact on your dog’s short- and long-term health, and consequently happiness and quality of life. So it is important to take time to find the right veterinarian for your, and your pet. It is important that your animal doctor not just be great with animals, but also have good people skills as you will be dealing with her throughout your pet’s life. It is also important to make sure that the team of assistants, technicians, and administrators meet your requirements; however, since there is a good chance that throughout your relationship with a veterinary office there will be change in staff, this particular aspect should not be a major deciding factor, but should play some role, as it will be indicative of the type of people with whom the veterinarian likes to work.
Things to Look for When Choosing a Veterinary Practice & Doctor
Though interpersonal skills, and the ability to deal properly with animals is important, there are other factors to consider as well. One easy step you can take is to check The American Animal Hospital Association website, at aahanet.org, for accredited veterinary clinics.
To evaluate a veterinarian and the clinic, arrange an initial visit to get an opportunity to meet the doctor, and evaluate the facilities; you can then base your decision on first-hand experience rather than reading reviews (though these can be a reasonable place to start).
Questions to Ask the Veterinarian
- Does the clinic have licensed veterinary technicians? It is important that a veterinary office use licensed veterinary technicians who have gone through the training and education necessary to properly care for animals.
- What is their philosophy about medication and health management? Depending on your personal preferences, the way a veterinarian treats animals may be an important factor (i.e. some veterinarians may have a more clinical approach than holistic).
- Does the doctor refer patients to specialists if necessary? If the veterinarian tries to deal with even the most complicated cases herself, it may end up causing reduced quality of care. It is important for a veterinarian to feel comfortable referring patients to a specialist if the pet’s health needs call for it.
Clinic Services & Capabilities
- How many doctors are on staff? If the practice only has one veterinarian, and you might have issues with emergency visits if the only doctor on staff is away on vacation, or simply otherwise occupied or not available.
- Is the staff courteous and knowledgeable? Since you will be interacting with the front-desk staff, and veterinary assistant and technicians as well as the doctor, it is important that you feel welcome, and comfortable with the entire staff, and not just the veterinarian.
- Is the facility clean and organized? As a health care facility, it is extremely important for the veterinary clinic to be clean, and well organized. This will contribute to better service, and greatly reduced chances of medical complications for your pet arising from being in an unsanitary environment.
- How are overnight patients monitored? It is important to have some type of monitoring system in place for overnight patients, even if there is not a staff physically present at the clinic.
Ask to tour the practice (with your pet). This is an important part of evaluating a practice. It will help you see how the back of the practice is operated, and maintained, and also how other pets in the clinic’s care are being treated, and their body language in reaction to the environment and treatment. Most importantly, this is a great opportunity to see how your own pet reacts to the clinic, and if she feels comfortable.