Taking steps to choose a competent veterinarian before you bring that cute doggie home, is a very important and worthwhile thing to do.
Getting your dog accustomed to his new family and environment will be all the challenge you need in the early days with your pet.
Should there be some medical emergency, you don’t want to be caught in a panic resorting to a random choice of Vet from the Yellow Pages! And you know the old saying about Murphy’s Law…anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Especially if you’re unprepared.
So, where to begin? Here are some tips for choosing a vet to get you going:
One of the best places to start is by contacting the American Veterinary Medical Association. Most reputable vets belong to this organization. Once you get in contact them, ask for some vet referrals in your area.
Another good source of information is the American Animal Hospital Association. Vets who belong to this organization are committed to achieving the high standards of animal care set by the association. You can visit them out online at aahanet.org to get lots of good information. Then go to healthypet.com to find AAHA accredited veterinary practices near your home.
Once you have your list of referrals in hand, check with some of your neighbors that have dogs to find out who they think is the best doggie doc. Also, boarding facilities may have some suggestions. See if you come up with any matches to the names on your list.
The next step is to pay a visit to some of the vet practices. Check out the hours of operation and how many vets are on staff. It is especially good to find out if they have “emergency” hours, because taking your dog to an alternate vet in a crisis, is not very reassuring.
Here are some other items to put on your Vet Visit checklist:
Find out about fees for the basic and emergency services, as well as boarding rates, if this is offered.
- Get a good look at the place. Does it look up-to-date and clean?
- Are there many clients waiting and do they seem to be on good terms with the staff?
- Is the atmosphere friendly and do the employees seem happy to be working there?
- Were you welcomed and readily given the information you needed?
- Were you offered a tour?
After you have done your pet detective work, you’ll most likely be much more comfortable and confident in selecting a vet for your dog.
But your job is not yet complete…
Once you and your dog are past the early days of your relationship, make an appointment with the vet you’ve chosen. This could be just a very brief health evaluation of your dog by the vet, and to get your dog’s basic information on file. Most importantly, it will give you a chance to see how well the vet and your dog get along.
Be sure to have some questions to ask the doctor. Part of your goal is to find a vet that is happy to answer any questions you have, even if they may seem trivial. This will set your comfort level for calling the vet without hesitation whenever you need advice in the future.
The bottom line: If you don’t come away from your meeting feeling confident that your dog’s health is in competent hands, move on to someone else on your list.
Choosing a vet you and your dog can relate to and trust is very important and I’m sure you’ll agree that your dog is worth it. So my advice is take all the time you need to find the right one. But, whatever you do, don’t wait until your dog is sick to find a vet!
There are times your dog will have a health related problem that can be handled with a home remedy. Find out more about common dog health problems here.
Keep these tips handy in your dog file. You might want to refer to them again if you move to a new city.