So, you’ve just made the decision to add a furry friend to your family. Now what? Just like with a newborn baby, you are going to want to decide on a veterinarian or at least start making a short list of high quality, convenient and cost-effective options. While personal recommendations are best, the Pets a Go Go® team has put together suggestions to help guide you on your journey to find the right veterinarian the first time.
- Where to Look: While personal recommendations are best, there are a lot of great resources to be found on the internet for choosing your new addition’s doctor. In addition to convenience and cost-effectiveness, the quality of the care and the feeling you get from the staff is imperative. Someone who fits your communication style and who takes the time to really talk to you invaluable even if you must drive a little further or spend a few dollars more. Accreditations and awards will help you ascertain whether your veterinarian is well respected and follows the guidelines of the VMA and other organizations. You should also always make sure that your veterinarian is board certified and/or has ready access to a board-certified surgeon in case of emergency. While you’re at it, it’s best to get a recommendation for a 24-hour emergency vet either from friends and neighbors or your new primary veterinarian.
- Facility Requirements: When possible, you should enter the veterinarian’s office to see if it is clean and has an organized waiting room. While COVID has made this a more difficult task, you can assess a lot from the demeanor of the staff on the phone the first time. If you feel rushed or made to feel like your questions are not valid, look elsewhere. Especially as a first-time pet owner, you want to know you can ask even some silly questions and you will not be treated like a number or dismissed in any way. While a busy vet can sometimes be a good vet, there is a point past which a very busy vet may simply be too busy for you or your pet when you need them.
- Cost and Other Considerations: Since veterinarians set their own prices, there is a wide range of costs associated with both routine care as well as periodic procedures. It’s perfectly ok to ask for a standard price sheet so you know what you’re looking at for routine office visits, required shots and fecal exams as well as spay/neuter procedures. Some veterinarians have expertise in treating certain dog breeds or sizes but for the most part experienced companion animal vets have worked with virtually all breeds of dogs and cats. It is a personal decision on whether you feel you might have an exotic or pocket pet come into your life later and want to have the same veterinarian for all the pets in your household. Above all it is important that you AND your dog feel comfortable and safe around their veterinarian and their entire team.
The Pets a Go Go® team hopes you can make an informed and successful decision when choosing a vet based on all of these considerations. While it may seem like an overwhelming process in the beginning, it will ultimately lead to the long-term health of your furry friend.