In the life of your pet, choosing the right veterinarian might be the most important activity you undertake. Your vet is more than a medical expert for your pet. He or she is a person who will need to meet the needs of your pet and you. Finding a vet should not be something that you do at the last minute either. As a pet owner, you should probably start scoping out vets as soon as you get your pet or even before.
Where Do I Start?
The best way to start looking for a good vet is to talk to friends and family with pets. Recommendations from friends should give you a few options but you can also speak to local animal shelters, dog trainers, groomers, and pet sitters. The phone book can be a good resource but you may find that you end up with an overwhelming list. Talk to people you know and especially to people with a similar pet care approach. You probably want to compile a list of at least 4 or 5 vets that you can then meet to ask some questions.
Veterinarians should be more than happy to meet with you and answer any questions you have. You should also expect to have a tour of their facility and even to ask for some references. Many veterinarians work in a team with other professionals so you will also want an opportunity to speak to the staff. If a veterinarian or his/her staff is reluctant to accommodate these requests you should start looking elsewhere.
Qualities of a Great Vet
There are definitely certain qualities you want to see in your veterinarian and the offices where s/he works.
- Good pet skills AND good people skills – You want to see how your vet interacts with your pet and how your pet reacts. Is your pet calm and does your vet know what to do to put your pet at ease. Moreover, it is equally important that you are able to develop a good rapport with your vet. Your pet cannot tell the veterinarian what is wrong and will need you to be his voice. Be sure that you are confident and comfortable with your vet.
- Your veterinarian has clean, comfortable, and organized facilities – A look around a veterinarian’s offices should tell you quite a lot about the quality of work that s/he does. If you find clean surroundings where you feel comfortable and you can see that work is conducted in an organized manner you have probably found a dedicated and professional veterinarian.
- The veterinarian provides a wide range of services – While this shouldn’t make or break your decision for a veterinarian, you might want to be aware of what services are available. A veterinarian who can provide in-house x-rays, ultrasounds, blood work, and other diagnostic services will be more capable of handling an emergency situation.
- You can easily book an appointment – Finally, you want to know that while your veterinarian is popular, s/he is not so busy that you cannot make an appointment. You probably want you and your pet to feel like you’re important to your veterinarian and that you receive a certain amount of personal service. A veterinarian that is constantly booked might not be best suited to meet your needs or the needs of your pet.