How To Find The Right Veterinarian For Your Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Choosing the right veterinarian isn't easy, but it is something that has to be done. To help your dog reach senior years without major issues, you will need a good veterinarian. Read on to see how to find one.

Experienced dog owners know that keeping dogs healthy and strong up to their senior years is possible if you manage to provide the right care.

Getting a dog is easy, but proving the best care, the right nutrition, and loving surrounding is something that is built and comes over time.

Shared responsibilities among family members are just one of many support systems that dog lowers love to see in their surroundings.

Another one is professional support, which comes in form of veterinarian support.

Did you know that at the moment are over 100,000 practicing veterinarians in the States? This seems like a large number, right?

One would think that with so many available veterinarians around it would be a piece of cake to find the best one? Well, no.

Sorry to disappoint you, but finding the right (and the best) veterinarian will demand time, research, and a lot of questions.

All in all, finding the right vet may be challenging and time-consuming, but it has to be done.

After all, to provide your dog the best you will need the best support and the right professional guidelines. Plus, the best way to keep your dog healthy and happy is to provide regular veterinarian check-ups.

Prevention is the key when it comes to having a healthy and happy dog.

Feeling overwhelmed from searching for the right veterinarian? Fear not, because we have got you covered.

Read on and discover tested tips and straightforward tips that will help you find the best veterinarian possible in the shortest time possible.

Personal Recommendations Come First

Ok… So you have probably seen this one coming, right? This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise because we all trust our family and friends.

If people in your surrounding have dogs already they must have a veterinarian.

After all, puppies have to go through puppy vaccination, so if anything they have visited at least one vet so far.

Their friends may also know someone, and in no time you will have more recommendations than time to check them all.

Think About the Distance

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for another living being.

It’s common for living begins to continually step into unplanned situations and experience some sort of stress.

A bit of rough play in the dog park, unsafe run on the street, rough terrain, inexperienced owner, human food that is bad for dogs, a heatstroke… Several factors can lead to unplanned situations that will demand veterinarians’ assistance.

This is why you should take into consideration distance. In other words, you want your veterinarian to be close to your home.

Sometimes, a minute is enough to save your dog’s life or not. Quick treatment can often save a dog’s life, like when it comes to heatstroke or bloat.

If you don’t drive, check public transportation and line in general.

Are dogs allowed? Do you need to have a certain basket, a muzzle, or any other item that can make a bus ride safer and more enjoyable for everyone?

If so, make sure that you respect regulations. If you drive, think about parking lots.

Is there public or private parking nearby? It all may sound funny now, but in reality – these factors will lead to a faster reaction from your veterinarian.

Opening Hours

Did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day at the vet’s office? The main reason for this is that dogs manage to grab food that they should be eating.

To avoid any Thanksgiving-related food troubles, make sure that you know which human foods are ok to share with your Fido and which should be off-limits no matter what.

Because of days like this, you need to think about opening hours as well. Check if they are open to receiving animals after working hours in case of an emergency? Are they available for a call after working hours if an emergency occurs?

If your dog gets sick, are there facilities where he can stay if needed? If your job requires you to work long hours or to work during the weekend (this is must due to possible poison-related situations), check if the practice is open on weekday and weekday evenings.

If your dog has to stay overnight, check if there is a member of the staff available to monitor the dog throughout the night.

Is The Vet An Animal Lover?

Not every veterinarian is a real pet lover. Some are more into the practice than animals.

This applies not only to veterinarians but to all staff members.

  • Are they welcoming enough?
  • Do they care?
  • Are they informative?
  • Is your dog comfortable around them?
  • Have you noticed any rough handling
  • Do they provide the right set of information?
  • Do they have enough experience?

It should be clear that no dog should ever experience any rough treatment. If you notice any rough handling make sure that you react.

If for whatever the reason might be, your dog feels disturbed or acts unsettled once you enter the vet’s office, feel free to continue searching for your vet.

Price Is An Important Factor

Before you get a dog make sure that you consider finances. Getting a dog is easy, but caring properly about one is completely different level.

To keep dogs well-fed and well-maintained you will have to set a certain budget. This is why when it comes to choosing the best veterinarian possible, you need to think about the price as well.

Veterinarian costs aren’t something that should be taken lightly, because some interventions are really expensive.

This is why many dog owners choose to get pet insurance and keep unplanned moments in some sort of control.

Every veterinarian practice comes with certain prices. To calculate how much a certain practice may cost you, make sure that you ask the right question, such as:

  • What do they offer in terms of facilities
  • Ask about prices for routine treatments
  • If a surgery is in question, learn if there are any charges for post-op check-ups

Again, think about pet insurance because it can offer you a sigh of relief.

From time to time vet bills can be too much, and pet insurance can really be helpful.

Specialist Vets

It’s common for veterinarian practices of different sizes to perform various procedures.

Dogs, and pets in general, are continually facing different challenges and often a specialized vet is needed to assist to keep dogs safe and healthy.

If your practice doesn’t have a specialist, ask if they have a cooperation with another practice and what is the procedure in that case in general.

If next to a dog you have another pet, an unusual or exotic pet, you might want to search for a practice that can keep both pets healthy.

Make sure that they have experience with that specific species.

Are There Extra Services?

It cannot be harmful to ask, because some veterinarian practices offer extra services.

Some of them offer services such as puppy training and obedience classes, that can be more than helpful, especially to novice owners. Some may offer factsheets to help you provide the best care possible.

Do They Have the Right Qualifications?

Would you go to an amateur surgeon for a surgery that could kill you? Of course not.

This is why you should have the same approach when it comes to choosing your veterinarian.

You want to check the vet’s expertise and qualifications.

Are they accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)?

If not, that should be your red flag, because AAHA accreditation is the standard qualification for veterinary excellence.

In other words, if a certain veterinarian office has AAHA qualifications you can be sure that your dog is going to a trusted clinic.

Schedule a Tour

Once you start researching you will probably find the great vet’s in a short period. Once you have determined that two or three vets are a great choice for you, you should go and visit them. That being said, make sure that you schedule a tour.

There is no need to take your dog with you while testing the ground. It is always a good decision to check the facility without your dog to see how everything feels to you.

Plus, this way you will have fewer distractions. Responsible and reputable veterinarians will be more than happy to show you around.

Before you visit facilities, make sure that you have your checklist with you. This list should contain information/questions that you would love to know more about.

Here are some of the most common recommendations and general guidelines, but feel free to add any questions that seem relevant for you and your dog:

  • Was it easy to transport from your home to the vet’s office?
  • Is there a parking lot?
  • Is facility clean enough?
  • Were you able to see the ‘behind the scene’ area?
  • Were they polite?
  • Are there separate waiting areas for dogs and cats?
  • Are there any restrictions or rules?
  • Would you have to pick up the dog on an examination table, or there is some form of assistance?
  • Was the waiting room comfortable, both for people and pets?
  • Is the staff caring and calm?

While you are there make sure that you talk with at least one veterinarian if there are specialists as well.

You can inform them about your dog or dogs, provide general information and see if they offer any space for further dialogue.

To get the best answers possible, make sure that you ask the right questions.

What Questions Should I Ask A New Vet?

When you schedule a tour you should go prepared.

To learn as much as possible about certain practices, you should go prepared. That being said, take a few minutes of yoru day time the day before to write down the must-ask questions, such as:

  • Are there any emergency services on-site?
  • Are there specialist vets present?
  • Are diagnostic tests such as blood work done in-house?
  • Are overnight patients always monitored?
  • What are the payment options?
  • Do they support any local animal shelter or any other welfare organization?

Why should you care if your vet’s office supports any local animal welfare organization?

In general, people who support the community, especially animal welfare, are usually those who have pets’ best interests at heart.

Once you choose your vet make sure that on a first check-up you ask direct dog-related questions, such as:

  • Are your dog’s teeth, nails, and coat healthy?
  • Is current parasite control effective enough?
  • Do they have a list of dog walkers nearby?

Don’t forget that the best way to keep your dog and your veterinarian in good relationships is to have the best communication possible.

Communication is a big part of high-quality vet care. Since your dog cannot tell you and your vet what’s wrong, you will be the first line (and the most important one) to provide the right information.

This means that you should know your dog’s regular behavior and notice fast when something is wrong.

The more information you give your dog the better care he or she will provide.

If you have doubts about any of your dog’s behavior, make sure that you ask your vet for a noteworthy explanation.

Always Be A Good Client

Once you choose your veterinarian you should do your best to build a great foundation and enjoy the best veterinary care possible.

The best care isn’t a one-way street, but a relationship between you and your veterinarian.

Client-veterinarian relationship requires certain steps and time to make it strong and long-lasting.

Here is how to show respect toward your veterinarian and become the best veterinarian client ever:

  • If possible, show up early at least a few minutes before the appointment
  • Show that you care about your dog by knowing his regular behavior and new symptoms
  • If you have a question, ask
  • Be patient

Make sure that you look at your veterinarian as your friend.

For a collaboration to be successful it should be a two-way street based on respect, open communication, and a lot of requests.

Last, But Not The Least…

If something seems suspicious to you, trust your gut.