How to choose a vet is an important part of welcoming a new pet into your home. There is a lot to consider and questions you can ask. Let’s take a look at what’s involved in choosing a vet.
Introduction – How to Choose a Vet
Getting a new pet is usually an exciting time for a household. Along with cuddles and walkies, choosing a vet is an important part of welcoming a new addition into the home to ensure a healthy life for your animal. So when it comes to choosing a vet, there are a number of things you need to consider to make sure they are a good veterinary practice and provide high-quality veterinary care.
Choosing a vet early can reduce stress in times of emergency, you might want to choose one that is close to home with good transport and parking access. Remember, the more exotic the pet, and the more remote you live, the harder it is to find the right vet. Just like there are different types of doctors, there are different types of vets. Cost is an important part of choosing a vet as well, and how it makes you feel when interacting with or asking questions with a particular vet. If you’re not happy, it will just take a little bit of coordination and organisation – changing vets can be relatively easy.
How to Choose a Vet – What do I need to consider?
As with any service, asking friends and family for recommendations can be a good place to start. Further to this, asking your pet care network, such as breeders, groomers and trainers for a vet recommendation can put you in touch with a vet who will suit you and your pet.
Once you have a few vet practices to contact, make a list of questions to ask, such as what animals they treat, how they charge and whether they have after-hours services. You can also check out the practice online.
Finding a vet that specializes in the animal you have
It may come as a surprise, but not all vets treat all animals.
When choosing a vet for your beloved fur baby (or feather/ scale/ hair baby as the case may be!), you need to find a veterinary practice that caters to the type of animal your pet is. Some specialize in domestic pets like cats, dogs and birds, others specialize in farm animals like cows, goats and sheep, others may specialize in horses, while others may specialize in reptiles. Some places, like Murdoch University’s animal hospital has up to 85 vets, across different disciplines.
You should also check that your vet is qualified to practice.
Taking in a pet comes with certain expenses; bedding, toys, food and vet bills can all mount up. When choosing a vet it’s important to factor in the potential cost. Vet bills can be expensive, and can quickly add up into hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some things to look for are whether the vet offers an up-front full quote before any procedures are done, or do they have a list of fixed price procedures.
It’s also handy to ask if they offer payment plans for more expensive treatment, such as surgery.
When choosing a vet, it’s important to consider the vet practice’s location. Ideally, you’d want a vet close to where you live, and easily accessible with parking. Having a vet close to home can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. Also, leaving it until an emergency to work out where your closest vet is, can also cost precious minutes when you’re trying to get help quickly. Choosing your vet early can help cut down the stress.
The more exotic the species, and the more remote your location, the harder it may be to find a vet that caters to your pet.
When choosing a vet, it’s worth considering what services you want, and what services the vet offers, which may also change over your pet’s lifetime.
A new puppy will need occasional checkups with vaccinations and desexing, while an older dog may develop acute or chronic health care issues that need more regular care.
It’s also worth considering what sort of emergency services or after-hours service they provide, including home visits, as well as how many veterinarians they have on staff.
Is the facility clean? Environmental cleanliness is important in any health care setting and vet surgeries are no exception. An unclean environment can lead to cross-infection between animals, so cleanliness is important.
Some of the things to look for are whether the vet washes and sanitises their hands. The examination room should look clean and tidy, and the waiting area should also look clean, neat and tidy. Surfaces and floors should be made of non-porous and easy to clean materials. Any bedding for overnight stays should also be fresh and clean.
VeterinaryPracticeNews have important information here on the importance of disinfection protocols at vet practices.
How they treat the animals
One of the main factors in choosing a vet comes down to trust, and whether you trust the vet to give the care they need. In a nutshell, we all want attentive, compassionate and competent care for our pet.
Some of the things to look for are whether the staff spend time with your pet and show genuine care. Watching the staff interact with other owners and pets in the waiting room is a good way to see how the vet team treat animals in their care.
How they treat you!
When choosing a vet, it is also important to consider how the vet and their team treat both you, the owner, as well as the animal. It’s important that you feel the vet is listening to your concerns and is willing to answer questions. Communication is also important in building a rapport between the vet and owner, so the owner has confidence that the pet is receiving the best care.
It works both ways too; the owner should treat the vet practice respectfully. Be on time for appointments, be willing to take the vet’s advice and ask for a referral if you want a second opinion.
Are they always trying to sell you something?
Let’s face it, there are plenty of businesses that try to up-sell at every opportunity – do you want fries with that?
But when you go to the vet, the point should not be for the vet to make an extra sale from each visit. Fair enough if your dog has a weight problem and the vet recommends a special type of weight loss dog food. However, it would be a red flag if every interaction with staff came with a hard sell for flea powder, worming tablets, shampoo and dog food.
Vet practices are businesses, we get that. But care should come first, and if you happen to grab a squeaky toy as an impulse buy on the way out, then that’s just an added extra.
Have you felt rushed?
Nobody likes to feel rushed, especially when you are worried about the well-being of your beloved pet. However, vet practices are businesses and need to stick to allocated appointment times. Online reviews are a good place to check if other owners have felt rushed by a particular practice.
Owners can help streamline the visit and get the most out of an appointment by arriving on time and coming prepared with a list of the pet’s treatment history, such as at-home medications and diet.
What questions should I ask a vet?
in choosing a vet, some things to ask include:
- What are the average annual expenses for my type of pet?
- What are your payment policies?
- Do you offer payment plans for bigger expenses ie surgery?
- What are your pet care philosophies?
- What sort of care do you provide for overnight patients?
- What’s the average wait time for appointments?
- Do you do home visits in emergencies?
- How many vets do you have at the practice?
- Are there other pet services you can recommend?
- How often should I bring my pet to the vet?
Are there different types of vets?
Just like there are different types of doctors for people, there are different types of vets for animals. They fall into three main categories:
- Companion animal vets are the ones most people are familiar with. These vets are your first port of call when it comes to caring for your dog, cat or pet snake, rat or fish, amongst others.
- Wildlife vets are mostly employed by government agencies and care for injured wildlife.
- Livestock vets look after farm animals such as cows, goats and sheep. These types of vets tend to travel to the animal, as their size can make them hard to transport.
Vets can also specialize in types of conditions, such as eyes, cancer and skin issues.
Can pet owners change vets easily?
Sometimes, despite all the hard work in finding the right vet, you may need to change to a new vet, such as when moving home, relocating for work or if you’re simply not happy with your current vet.
While it can be easy to overlook finding a new vet in the stress of a move, it’s worth taking the time to do it early on, as finding a vet in an emergency can be added stress at a time when you don’t need it.
Before the move, see if your current vet can refer you to one in your new area. Make sure you also ask about transfer of your pet’s medical records such as vaccinations. Once you have a new vet in mind, do a search online for reviews. You should also call the new practice to make sure they have received the records and have what they need, and make an appointment for an in-person visit if the new vet requires this as part of accepting your pet as a patient.
So while it may take a bit of organising, changing vets can be relatively easy to do.
Summary – How to Choose a Vet
In conclusion, choosing the right veterinarian is an important part of getting a pet. Choosing a vet should be done early on, to reduce stress in emergencies. Asking for recommendations from friends and family is a good way to start. It’s important to keep in mind that not all vets treat all animals. When choosing a vet, remember that the more exotic the pet and remote your location, the harder it can be to find the right vet. It’s important to consider how the vet treats you and your pet, but it’s equally important for owners to do the right thing by the vet by turning up on time and being willing to listen to the advice. Cost is an important factor when choosing a vet, so ask up front. Finally, with a bit of coordination, changing vets can be done relatively smoothly.