Choosing a veterinarian is a big decision. After all, your veterinarian will be responsible for keeping your pet healthy as they age. They may even need to save your pet’s life in an emergency. It’s important to do your homework and pick a vet who is right for you, your pet, and your budget. These tips will help you make the best decision.
How to choose a veterinarian
- Ask for recommendations. Ask friends, neighbors, and family members which veterinarian they take their pets to and why they chose that practice. If you think your expectations are similar, you can schedule a visit to the clinic to see it for yourself. Breeders and breed club members are another good source of information and recommendations for owners of pure-bred animals. They usually know of local veterinarians who are prepared to anticipate and treat potential problems that are breed-specific.
- Take a tour of the veterinary office. Most clinics will allow you to schedule a tour of their facilities before you bring your pet in for an appointment. When you visit, make sure the facility is clean and organized. Remember, this is a medical facility so it should be just as clean as a human hospital. In addition, pay attention to how busy the clinic is. A busy clinic is likely an indication that the veterinarian is well-liked and the staff are hard-working and reliable.
- Look for professional staff. Good customer service is always an important factor when choosing a veterinarian office. Pay close attention to how telephone calls are handled. Did you have to wait on hold for several minutes? Was the person you spoke to professional and friendly? When you visit the office for the first time take note of how the staff interacts with you and any animals that come in. You may also want to inquire how much time you’ll be able to spend with the veterinarian during routine appointments.
- Make sure your pet care philosophies align. Find out how the veterinarian feels about preventative care, spaying and neutering, dental care, holistic treatments, and specialist care. If you don’t agree with their opinions in one or more of these areas, you should probably look for a different vet.
- Think about location and office hours. A convenient location close to home is certainly a plus in case of emergency. It also means you can avoid long car rides with your pet. In addition, make sure office hours are compatible with your schedule.
- Ask about cost and payment policies. Veterinary prices can vary greatly from one clinic to the next, even in the same town. Ask how much examinations, yearly vaccines, elective surgeries, and emergency treatments cost, and make sure the prices fit within your budget. Inquire about the types of payments the clinic accepts, too. Do they offer payment plans for major surgeries or other costly treatments? Will they work with you to get reimbursement through pet insurance if you have it? These are questions worth asking.
- Find out what additional services the veterinarian offers. Some veterinarian facilities offer services that go beyond healthcare. If you need grooming or boarding services find out if they offer them.
- Check for professional accreditations and certifications. Find out how many licensed veterinarians are on staff and if they are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. Ask if they are members of any other professional veterinary associations. Find out if technicians are certified and, if not, what kind of experience they have. Participation in professional associations and continuing education is one indication of a practice’s high standard of care.
- Get your pet’s opinion. Visit the veterinarian’s office with your pet. Pay attention to the “bedside manner” of the veterinarian and staff. Your pet may not be particularly happy to be at the vet’s office, but you’ll be able to tell if office staff is making an effort to make them feel as comfortable and safe as possible.
For more information
See BBB.org/pets for more tips on owning a pet.
Learn more about paying for pets and pet care without getting scammed by visiting BBB’s pet scam page. Find a veterinarian, pet sitter and or groomer near you. Also, learn more about pet insurance.