Choosing a vet is one of the more important decisions which you will make concerning your dogs care and welfare. It is not a decision you would want to make in a hurry, or whilst under pressure. So allow yourself time to do some research, and seek out the right person or group of people with whom you feel comfortable, and with whom you can communicate. The care of your best friend is in question, and you want his health to be in the best possible hands.
Recommendation by word of mouth is often one of the most valuable sources of information. Ask your friends and family which veterinary practice they attend, and why they made their choice. Some people are content to use the nearest or the cheapest vet to their home. In any case, this will give you a starting point of practices to consider.
You may be considering buying a particular breed of dog. If that is the case, then your research may be more specific, you could ask local breeders, breed clubs or fellow owners which vet they use and would recommend.
If you want to cover all bases, then search through the yellow pages and on the internet, for veterinary practices in your local area.
So Many Choices, How To Choose?
One of the best ways to make your decision concerning a vet is to visit the premises, meet the vets and also their support staff. Take your list of potential clinics and schedule some appointments, mutually convenient for you and for the vets. As well as meeting the people, it is useful to ask for a tour of the premises, as this will give you a good first impression of whether this is a practice you would be comfortable with. Many veterinary practices are happy to accommodate such reasonable requests.
If you already have a dog, then take him with you, if at all possible. You will be able to see how he responds to the staff and to the vet, and likewise how they interact with him on first introduction. If your dog has any health issues which concern you, this initial appointment would be a good opportunity to raise them, to ascertain whether the practice has the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment to treat him to your satisfaction.
Consider also, what it is that you are looking for specifically in your choice of vet, and think about what is most important to you against what aspects might be desirable but not essential.
What was your first impression of the staff during your initial meeting? Did you leave feeling confident about their abilities, their manner and the way they conducted themselves? Or were you concerned about their attitude or knowledge?
What did you think of the premises? Was the practice clean, neat and tidy? Such factors may give an indication into the way that a practice is run, and this may be one of your concerns.
Are you concerned about the size of the practice, and how many vets there are at any particular clinic? Some people might prefer to see the same vet for each visit, maintaining continuity. Others do not mind seeing whoever is on duty on any given day. Is it possible to arrange a consultation by way of a telephone call, or must an appointment at the clinic always be made? What is the clinics policy concerning emergency situations? These are questions which must be considered before you make your final choice.
Does the practice provide any specialist treatments? Some vets specialize in areas such as dermatology, behavior or surgery. Also, what services are catered for within the practice? In the event that your dog needs an x-ray or laboratory tests for example, could these be provided in-house, or would you need to go elsewhere for that treatment? What is the procedure concerning such referrals? Gaining a knowledge of these issues before the event will reassure you as to the capabilities of your chosen clinic. Also, check the normal opening hours, consider the location, and compare fee structures and payment plans if they are offered.
This might sound like an extensive exercise, but having taken the time to do your research and considering all of the options available, you will be satisfied when making the right choice of vet for the best possible care for your dog.