Frequenting a veterinarian’s office seems like an issue of secondary or tertiary importance when it comes to daily caring for our pets. However, vets provide far more than just vaccinations and inspections; their guidance should be one of your top priorities when your new puppy or kitty is settled in. Here are some questions to ask when considering what kind of veterinarian to look for, and how to find the right fit for you and your fluffy companion.

What to look for in a veterinarian

  • Are they well-reputed in the community? From what you find out in the community (both locally and through dog breed clubs), see if the vet commands respect. Does he have a reputation for being reliable and knowledgeable about pet healthcare, and do people regard him as a “go-to” in his field?
  • Do they have good references? One of the most important things to do is ask for referrals, and then speak to each referee individually. Find out how the vet responded to their difficult situations, and what professionalism he displayed.
  • Do they have the credentials and experience necessary to serve their patients well? Review the educational background of al prospective vets. The more internships and residencies the better, as you want a veterinarian who has a wealth of experience. If you want to really ensure that your vet is worth his salt, look for those that are certified as ABVP (American Board of Veterinary Practitioners) at the end of their name.  This impressive certification requires further years of additional study as well as passing a difficult exam. This will help narrow your search significantly, as it is a rare certification and reflects a level of dedication that many vets are without.
  • Do they continue to expand their knowledge? Is the vet taking continued education classes, or attending medical seminars to better acquaint himself with ever-progressing medicine?  Avoid vets that have been doing things “their way or the highway” for decades without seeking to expand and improve their practice.

Tips for finding your vet

  • Always find a good vet before you need one. Don’t wait until the day your puppy isn’t breathing, or until your cat is lying lifelessly on your kitchen floor. Many pet owners have written horror stories about how they have driven their ailing animal around in a panic trying to find a good vet. Make sure you have a number on your fridge to call the moment something seems amiss. This kind of responsible foresight could save your pet’s life one day.
  • Look for referrals from your breeder, nearby breed club, or the animal shelter where you adopted your pet. They will be most likely to have years of experience in working with local veterinarians, and will be familiar with their skill, values and ability.
  • Search online for veterinarians near you. See that any vet or animal hospital you call has been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. This will ensure that the hospital is up to a high level of standards of equipment, facilities as well as pet healthcare services.
  • When all else fails, try going to a vet school and meet the top students. Those actively studying this field of medicine will eagerly desire to establish themselves as trustworthy and hardworking veterinarians. They will also be informed about the most recent findings and studies in pet healthcare.

When you have settled on an animal hospital or veterinarian clinic, ask all the right questions. Make sure that you know the following: what services the clinic provides, how they conduct appointments, whether or not they separate cats and dogs, how many technicians work there, and what emergency procedure and services they provide.  Find out if there is an advisor on staff that is available to take calls if and when your pet healthcare questions arise.

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