How To Choose The Best Vet For Your Dog

In a sea of Yelp listings, how do you find the right vet
for you and your dog?

Whether your dog is feeling under the weather or it’s just time for a checkup, the veterinarian charged with keeping him in tip-top shape should be one that fits you and your dog’s unique needs. This isn’t a flip-a-coin decision—you’re going to have to do some leg work to find a vet that fits all your requirements.

If you’re on the hunt for a vet and you don’t know where to start, don’t worry—you don’t have to go in blind. We’ve got your back with a few tips on how to find the best vet for your dog.

Plan Ahead

Don’t wait until your dog needs medical help to choose the right vet. This is one of the most important decisions you make for your dog. You can’t put a price on the peace of mind that this professional will provide in times of an illness or emergency, and who will guide you in making the best medical decisions for your dog. Start planning before you bring a dog into your home or move to a new city. Planning ahead and taking your time are key to ensuring you’ll find someone who meets your dog’s needs as much as yours.

Ask for Referrals

As a starting point, get referrals from friends and family who already have a vet. But don’t just take their word for it—you’ll still need to evaluate each facility and vet on your own. You can also ask around at the dog park or doggy daycare, and see what pet parents have to say about the vets they visit. With this list, look for reviews online and check out each veterinarian’s website to see what services are offered, what conditions they treat, and if they specialize in a certain breed or dog type.

Meet the Vet Before Your Dog Does

Meet with the veterinarian before your dog does. Be sure to call ahead to make an appointment and fly solo on this visit. It’s the perfect time to scope out the facility and speak with the vet to determine if he or she would be a good match.

Is He/She An Accredited Vet?

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) evaluates veterinarian practices in terms of staff, care, education, equipment, and facilities. To search for an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital in your area, visit the AAHA website. It’s a great tool if you are trying to narrow down your current options. Keep in mind that not all good vet practices are accredited—but whether they are accredited or not, make sure that the facility is staffed by well-educated and experienced workers, from pet techs to receptionists and surgeons. And take a tour of the facilities while you’re there—it needs to not only be clean, but outfitted with modern equipment.

Do They Listen To You?

How does the vet respond when you ask questions or raise concerns about your dog’s health? You want someone who will listen and address your queries, not brush them off because “they know best.” You are your dog’s advocate—since you spend the most time with your pooch, you’re in the best position to see if there’s any changes in health, mood or behavior. A good vet will consider and listen to your concerns, and answer all your questions—even if you’ve asked them before.

Find an Emergency Vet

Most veterinarian facilities aren’t open 24 hours a day. In case of emergencies, you have to find a hospital in your area. That means you should have a primary vet, as well as an emergency animal hospital that meets all your needs.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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