How To Select A Veterinarian

Fluffy KittenWhen going from a no-pet home to a house full of furbabies, it is important to select a veterinarian that you can count on. Most people are aware that they’ll need to enlist the help of a veterinarian for any pet that they invite into their home; however, not all pet owners fully assess what to look for in a veterinarian.

When taking your pet to the vet, you’ll want to maximize the time that you spend there so you won’t have to come back any time soon. We’ve got the definitive guide to selecting the right veterinarian for you right here.

Services Offered: You’ll want to choose a veterinarian that encompasses all that you’re looking for, so that you can make the most of your visits. Some veterinarian offices simply offer basic care, and provide recommendations for specialists, like grooming and oral care. Many offices actually offer these services in-house, which could be beneficial in the long-run. Wouldn’t it be easy and save time if you could get kitty’s nails clipped, their mats trimmed, and their teeth cleaned all in one visit?

Close-up of a veterinarian holding a cat isolated on whiteIf you have multiple cats, you may be able to find a veterinarian that either offers deals or specializes in multiple-pet visits. If you have a dog or another type of animal as a pet, you might want to find a veterinarian that takes care of different kinds of animals as opposed to a cat-only office. This way, you can bring the whole gang along for check-ups instead of making multiple trips.

Reviews: Although reviews on the internet are not always 100% guaranteed or truthful, you can get a pretty good sense for a business through their online reviews. Don’t be swayed by promotional discounts to take your pet to an office with bad reviews. If you’ve been recommended an office by a friend, make sure to do more research on the veterinarian and call ahead for any questions that you may have. The person working the front desk will likely be someone that you’ll talk with a fair amount, so you’ll want your experience on the phone with the receptionist to be a positive one. When selecting a veterinarian, you’ll want to make sure that they are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, or AAHA.

Hours: You’ll want to select an office that has hours that will work with your schedule. For example, if you know that you will only be able to make visits on the weekends, you’ll want to select a veterinarian that offers extensive weekend hours. You should make sure that your veterinarian either gives you a number for emergencies, or provides you with a local, trusted emergency veterinary hospital. Over time, you’ll create a relationship with your veterinarian and will likely prefer that they are the one to look at your pet, especially in an emergency. However, not all vets offer on-call services 24/7. Make sure that you are prepared with the phone number and location of an emergency veterinary hospital.

Location: Going to see the veterinarian is not a particularly favorable activity for almost any animal, especially cats. You’ll want to select a location that is convenient and as stress-free as possible. The closer to home, the better. If you live in a rural area, you may be able to find a veterinarian that makes house-calls. If you’re in a city or suburb, be prepared with parking information and how to best get your pets from the car to the office. You always want to keep your cat in a cat-carrier when leaving the house, especially when visiting the veterinarian or any other unfamiliar location.

Price: If you know that you need to have a certain procedure done on your cat, it is worth it to take the time to call around to different offices and get estimates to compare prices. Even if it is as simple as a check-up, you could be saving hundreds of dollars over time by finding the most price-conscious office. Remember that you aren’t shopping around for a “cheap” veterinarian; rather, you’re looking for a reliable office that has standard prices and good reviews. Never choose a poorly-rated veterinarian over a highly-rated one based upon price. Many offices also offer deals for multiple pets or new clients, so make sure that you get the most bang for your buck on your visit. You can also see if your veterinarian offers payment plans for more costly procedures if need-be.

doctor explaining diagnosis to his female patientYou can find out the answers to most of these variables by calling around and asking questions at different offices. It is easy to simply choose one and go, but when your pet’s health and your wallet are at stake, you’ll want to make the best decision possible. Once you’ve selected a veterinarian’s office, you may want to stop by to check out the facilities. Make sure that the facilities appear clean, and that there seems to be enough staff available. You should be comfortable to ask as many questions as you’d like, and the staff should always oblige as long as you aren’t being unreasonable.

If you go to a certain office and aren’t happy with the meeting, you can always try out a new office in the future. It is also a good idea to call around for estimates for recommended procedures, for example spaying/neutering and teeth cleaning. When attending your first appointment, make sure to be on time and prepared with as much information as you can record, including your pet’s regular behavior and any symptoms that you’ve noticed as unusual. You should always be informed of what you will be billed for when attending the veterinarian’s office for a visit, and never hesitate to ask questions about procedures or billing protocol.

Finding the right veterinarian is a process that will benefit you for the remainder of your pet’s life. Take the time to find everything that you’re looking for in an office, and you’ll have healthy and happy pets for the rest of their days.