How to Choose the Right Veterinarian for Your Pet

   Whether you’re a new pet owner or have owned several pets for years, it’s a good idea to select a veterinarian before you actually need one. This way, you’ll be working with someone who you feel comfortable with and seems to have a good rapport with your pet rather than a vet who is simply nearby, open, or listed first in the Yellow Pages.


  The best solution is to find a good vet in advance before you need one, to make sure that you feel happy that they will provide the best care for your particular pet.
  To find the right vet requires the same patience and diligence that you would devote to finding any other kind of professional — a pediatrician, dentist, real estate agent, or plumber. 

Understanding Veterinary Qualifications

  The letters following a vets name, D.V.M. or V.M.D. mean that they successfully graduated with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a council on education which sets the accreditation standards for the colleges offering such programs in the U.S.  Before they can practice medicine, a prospective vet must also pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE).  The state of Ohio does not require veterinarians pass any further state specific exams prior to practicing.  

When selecting a vet, it’s good to know the meaning behind the credentials. The titles D.V.M. or V.M.D. indicate that the individual has earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. In the U.S., the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sets the accreditation standards for veterinary colleges. Additionally, before practicing, a vet must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). Some states may have additional requirements.

1.Compile a list of veterinarians in your area. 
  Check the yellow pages in your local phone book. This will give you a place to start and organize the contenders so that you can efficiently begin researching them.

The best advertisement is through word of mouth, ask your friends and neighbors who own pets on which vets they trust. Not only can they guide you in who you should go to, but they can be a valuable resource in who not to go to as well. If you frequent a dog park or have one close by, chat with some of the other pet owners for advice.

You’ll gain a lot of useful information and guidance. If you’re planning to move or have recently moved and in need to look for a new vet, you can ask your current vet if they can refer a clinic or a specific veterinarian in your new area.

Local directories can be a starting point, but personal recommendations from friends, neighbors, or fellow pet owners at dog parks can be invaluable. If you’re relocating, ask your current vet for referrals in your new location.

2. Utilize your resources. 
  Gather as much information as possible. You can obtain data by asking neighbors, friends or other pet enthusiasts and a bevy of other ways as well.

Ask your local Humane Society or peruse the flyers they may have on their bulletin board. Some pet supply stores will offer an information booth or board to assist patrons who have such queries. Research vets on the Internet by logging on to pet related chat rooms or websites.

Look for articles regarding any local veterinarians or clinics, positive or negative. Professional directories such as American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) inspect offices and offer information regarding their status.

Expand your research online. Websites, pet forums, and professional directories like the AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) can provide insights into a vet’s reputation and credentials.

3.Visit the clinics/offices personally and ask to speak with a vet and take a tour of the facilities. 
  Ask to view where the animals are kept overnight for procedures that would require an extended stay. If possible, speak with a few of the clients in the waiting room to assess their satisfaction. The offices should be clean, well lit, and up to date with the latest in veterinary medicine advances.

The staff should be courteous, knowledgeable, and handle animals with care. The vets should be kind, patient, and of course accredited. Don’t simply assume that they have had the required schooling and other advanced education, ask for details or proof.

Arm yourself with a list of questions to ask and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns and opinions.

A good vet won’t try to bully you into doing something you have reservations about, or belittle you for asking what may seem like simple questions. Look for someone who you feel truly has a love for animals and will develop a personal relationship with you and your pet.

They should possess a gentle touch and a soothing demeanor. This will help put your understandably, nervous pup more at ease.

Personal visits offer a firsthand look at the facilities, staff, and the veterinarians. Ensure the clinic is clean, modern, and equipped with the latest medical tools. Engage with the staff and assess their knowledge and approach towards animals. Don’t hesitate to ask for the vet’s credentials and experience. A vet who genuinely cares will be patient, kind, and willing to address all your concerns.

4. The vet should offer either emergency care or have an emergency clinic that they work with, should you encounter a problem after regular office hours.
  All procedures and policies are to be explained to you up front and in detail, as are fees and payment information. They should inform you of what services they do and do not provide, and be able to refer you to a specialist if one is required. They should be able to provide you with literature about a number of things, from flea and tick prevention to proper nutrition to training.

It’s vital to know the clinic’s protocol for emergencies outside regular hours. Understand their range of services, fees, and payment options. A transparent clinic will provide clear information on procedures, policies, and any associated costs.

5. Above all, trust your instincts.
   If something appears sketchy or makes you uncomfortable, speak up. Your dogs can’t tell you that someone is being too rough with them by means of anything but a yelp, and many times dogs will cry even when the vet is being as gentle as possible.

It’s up to you to keep your eyes open and be alert for these things for your pet. You are never contractually obligated to revisit a vet or clinic should you feel uncomfortable with him/her or the services. If you’ve encountered any problems, start looking for another alternative.

Your intuition, combined with your pet’s comfort level, is crucial. If something feels off or if your pet is particularly uneasy with a specific vet, consider exploring other options.

  If your pet especially doesn’t like a certain vet, but doesn’t mind others, follow your pet’s instincts.

List of questions to ask the vet:

  • Opening times, important if you need to have flexible access to your vet, for instance evenings and weekends.
  • Fees – find out their standard consultation fees, also their fees for standard treatments such as vaccinations, worm and flea treatments etc.
  • Emergencies – what are the arrangements for out of hours emergency care for your pet, for instance do they do home visits?
  • Alternative medicine – find out what their attitude is towards alternative and complementary treatments for your pet.
   Never be afraid to ask a vet anything. If you feel afraid to ask them something to do with your pet and it’s well-being, this obviously isn’t the right vet for you
  Your veterinarian will be the most important person in providing your dog with proper care, second only to you the owner. He or she should be someone you feel comfortable talking to, capable of leaving your animal in his/her care, and with whom you would develop a long-standing relationship. In a manner of speaking, the vet you choose should become a part of your dog’s family. By thoroughly investigating the potential vets and coming to a well-informed decision, you can rest assured that it will save both you and your pet stress in the future.




Questions to Consider When Meeting a Vet

  • Opening Times: Especially important if you need flexibility, like evening or weekend appointments.
  • Fees: Understand consultation fees and costs for standard treatments.
  • Emergencies: Know the arrangements for out-of-hours care and if home visits are possible.
  • Alternative Medicine: Gauge their openness to alternative or complementary treatments.

Your veterinarian plays a pivotal role in ensuring your pet’s health and happiness. By investing time in finding the right professional, you’re setting the stage for a long, healthy relationship between your pet, the vet, and yourself.

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