How to Find the Right Veterinarian for Your Dog
by Jessi Larson
You just got a new dog and need to find a veterinarian. What do you do?
That’s a common question asked by most new dog parents.
For many, a dog is considered a full-fledged member of the family. And you wouldn’t put a family member’s health in the hands of just anyone.
How do you find a veterinarian that’s right for both you and your dog?
If you follow the five steps below, you’re guaranteed to find a vet that’s a perfect fit for your pup.
1. Look locally
First things first: Find a vet that is near you. If heaven forbid something happens to your dog and it’s even remotely urgent, you’ll want to be able to get to the clinic in a short period of time.
This is also important if you have to take time off work for vet appointments. It’s tough enough to get away from work but even tougher when you factor in extra drive time.
Sure you may have had an awesome veterinarian over in your hometown many miles away or you have a friend an hour away who’s a vet. It’s OK to consult with them about your dog’s health, but you’ll want a primary vet close to home.
For the most part, vet visits are usually planned. You know when they’re due for an exam or needs vaccinations.
But as we’ve learned throughout the years, things come up. Your dog ate something funky and doesn’t seem like himself. You spot a weird growth and can’t stop worrying. Your dog has a cut on his face that needs a few stitches.
All of these things happened to our dog Toby, and we were glad our vet was only 15 minutes away.
Tip: Do an online search and compile all the veterinarian clinics near you.
2. Read online reviews
This is probably an obvious statement, but reading online reviews is incredibly important as a consumer.
And now there are more sites with reviews than ever – Google, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc.
Search around and see what people are saying about each clinic you’re looking at.
Yes, some people just love to complain, but fortunately it’s pretty easy to tell who those people are versus more level-headed pet owners. And for the most part, you’ll see some clear trends in these reviews.
Tip: Once you have a list of the clinics near you, do a deep dive and read all the reviews you can find.
3. Ask for recommendations
Another useful tip is to ask around. Where do your neighbors take their dogs? How about friends, family and co-workers in the area?
If your dog is taking training lessons or going to doggy daycare, get their opinion, too.
This is a great method because you’ll get honest, qualitative feedback that can help make your decision.
Tip: Think of dog owners in the area that you know and value their opinion. They’ll be more than happy to share their thoughts.
4. Do a test run
Once you find a vet clinic that seems like a good fit, make an appointment for your dog to be seen.
In this initial appointment, the vet will conduct an assessment of your dog’s health. But really, you’ll also be working on an assessment of your own.
Things to consider as you figure out if this is the right place for you and your dog:
- Facilities – The first thing is to take inventory of the clinic. Is it clean and comfortable?
- Veterinarian – Most importantly, what do you think of the vet? Did they explain things clearly? How was their bedside manner? How did your dog respond to them?
- Support staff – It’s not just the vet you have to consider. You’ll actually be spending just as much time with the support staff, which includes the vet technicians, front office team members and so forth.
- Service – How was the level of service? Is the staff pleasant? Was it easy to make an appointment? How is the communication?
5. Trust your gut
As always, trust your gut reaction. It’s more important than people realize.
If you had a good first impression of the clinic and the team and your dog responded well, by all means proceed.
If something felt off and the experience wasn’t what you had hoped for, don’t be afraid to look for other options.
Bonus tip: Find an Emergency Pet Hospital
While you’re looking for a standard vet clinic, it’s smart to also identify emergency pet hospitals in the area.
This is a place to go if your dog needs care urgently and you can’t wait for the next available appointment at your regular vet.
They’re more expensive, but when your dog’s health is on the line, this usually isn’t a concern.
We’ve had to take Toby to the emergency pet hospital twice: Once when he was attacked by a dog and had a deep cut on his face that kept bleeding and another time when he ate the grease from the grill and got violently ill.
Both of those times we were in a shear panic, and in hindsight, I’m sure glad we knew exactly where to take him for care.
Conclusion: How to Find the Right Veterinarian for Your Dog
Taking care of your dog’s health is an incredibly important part of being a responsible pet owner. This includes regular vet visits.
When you get a new dog, it’s vital that you find a vet right away and make sure your pup is seen for regular appointments. A proper care regimen includes vaccinations that protect your dog from disease – so important!
It may seen overwhelming at first, but once you find a trusted vet, you’ll sleep easy at night knowing your dog’s health is in good care.