Have you chosen a veterinarian for your new dog yet? If not, it’s best to find one now, before your dog has a medical concern. Your veterinarian is your partner in keeping your dog healthy, so choose one that suits both you and your dog.
Start by determining what’s important to you in a veterinary clinic:
Do you want a small clinic or a larger animal hospital?
How convenient are its hours for your schedule?
Does it need to be close to your home or public transportation?
Do you always want to see the same doctor, or do you mind seeing others in the practice?
Do they accept your pet insurance or your preferred payment type?
Ask Friends for Recommendations
Also, ask trusted friends, neighbors, and family members for recommendations. Find out who they use and why. It is a good idea to get several different opinions since no one person will be liked by everyone. You want to get a sampling of opinions. Once you have a shortlist, research those veterinarians online for their credentials and reviews.
A Visit to the Clinic
Next, call the veterinarians’ offices to request a tour. Many clinics allow you to visit their facility before scheduling an appointment with your dog. Observe the staff’s friendliness, the clinic’s overall cleanliness, and the setup of the waiting area. Does it have a separate waiting area for pets that are scared or possibly aggressive, and is this important to you? What is the clinic’s policy for emergencies?
Meeting the Veterinarian
Once you’ve chosen a clinic, schedule a checkup for your dog. When you meet the veterinarian, evaluate him or her by asking yourself the following questions:
Did the doctor talk to your dog and try to befriend him before examining him?
Did he or she call your dog by name?
Were the doctor and veterinary assistant gentle when handling your dog?
Were you given enough opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns, and were those questions or concerns adequately addressed?
Evaluate the front office staff? Are they helpful? Friendly? Do they acknowledge you when you walk in or are you ignored? What is the overall appearance of the clinic? Is it clean? Odor-free? What is the attitude of the staff toward the other clients who may be present? How about those on the other end of the phone line? You can learn a lot by just observing.
The veterinarian and staff should always give you the sense that your dog’s health and wellbeing are a priority. Is your dog able to be seen quickly if he becomes ill? Are calls to the clinic returned in a timely manner? Not only should you have trust in your veterinarian, but you should also sense that he or she truly cares about your dog.
You might also want to ask about the clinic’s emergency policy and how they handle referrals to specialists and second opinions.
Above all, you should be comfortable with the veterinarian and the practice. You should always feel that your pet’s good health is their first priority.