Anyone who has a pet should have a veterinarian that they can visit regularly as needed. But it is equally as important to find a veterinarian and staff that you feel comfortable with and can trust. I have found that when they get to know me and my pets, I can usually get in without delay when I need to, and if I say I have an emergency, they know it really is.
- Interview several veterinarians – Set up an appointment to go meet and take one of your pets for a wellness exam. Make a list of questions to ask, and look at the different responses from 2 or 3 or 4 hospitals. Do their philosophies about pet care match yours? Who do you instantly feel safe using?
- Hours – not the most important thing to base your decision on, but it certainly comes into play. If you can only make it on weekends or an evening, can they accommodate that?
- Emergency coverage – how do they handle emergencies? Is a veterinarian on call? Do they refer to a local emergency 24 hour veterinary hospital? Can your vet be paged or is there an emergency number to call? This plays into your decision about who you are comfortable using.
- Staff – the receptionists and technicians – the receptionists often make many decisions when answering the phone, and the technicians are the ones who will most likely handle your pet the most during any treatments. The techs are also often responsible for anesthesia, x-rays, and treatments during a hospital stay. Do they welcome you and your pet?
- Medical equipment and continuing education – ask about what kinds of equipment and/or testing they do in house. All veterinary clinics or hospitals should have equipment for radiography, common blood tests, dental procedures, even laser and ultrasound equipment. And the vast majority have computerized records, and an email address and website.
There can be other things you also want to consider like being accredited from the American Animal Hospital Association or how they staff interacts in local events or schools. Accreditation is nice, and it shows they go an extra mile to be inspected, but not being accredited doesn’t indicate a lesser quality hospital either. And if the veterinarians or staff participate in community functions like local business expos or school class rooms, then you can rest assured they want to promote good pet care.