Picking the right veterinarian is a very important decision. When you bring a dog or cat into your life, you are responsible from that day forward for their health, nutrition, care and safety. When selecting a veterinarian, you’re doing more than searching for a medical expert. You’re looking for someone to meet your needs and those of your pet.

Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right veterinarian for you and your pet:

Ask around. Get recommendations from family, friends or coworkers who feel the same way about their pets as you do. Online reviews are not always accurate as people tend to only complain about the bad.

Philosophies. Ask the veterinarian about their philosophies. Do they mesh with yours? How does the veterinarian respond to your own question and concerns? Does this seem like someone with whom you’ll be able to communicate? Find a Veterinarian that connects with how you want to help care for your pet. If you want a holistic, natural route then pick a Veterinarian who has the knowledge in that. There are certain Veterinarians that have extensive knowledge in holistic care.

How is the office? When you find an animal practice you think you like, ask for a tour. The hospital should be proud to show you its facility.

Are they busy? Can’t find a seat once you get to the office? Standing room only can be a good sign of what the office has to offer.

Hours. You need to be sure that the clinic is open hours that are convenient for you.

Location, Location, Location. Having a vet close is very important. If you can walk or make a quick drive, that’s great. Aside from making well visits less of a hassle, this closeness will give you piece of mind knowing that in the case of an emergency, your vet is nearby.

Flexability. If your animal starts vomiting profusely at 9am you should ideally be able to get an emergency appointment. It would be more important that if an emergency happens during business hours that they would be able to get you in.

Look for AAHA accreditation. It’s a good idea to choose an animal hospital that’s been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Animal hospitals that choose to be accredited show they are committed to meeting — or exceeding — approximately 900 standards in a variety of different areas.

Costs. Veterinary costs have risen over the years. It is important to find a Veterinarian whose prices are within your budget. Some hospitals offer wellness plans to spread the cost out, while others offer care credit or different payment plans.

Medical Equipment/Services. A good hospital should have access to x-ray, ultrasound, dentistry, in-house lab tests, IV pumps, blood pressure, and eye pressure monitoring, as well as the ability to send out labs and refer to specialists.

Vet techs and assistants. Do they seem knowledgeable? Does the staff seem happy? Are they able to handle your pet? Ask about the longevity of the staff. Staff members who feel empowered to do good medicine and nursing care tend to stay with a practice longer. Keeping your pet happy and healthy is very important. But your veterinarian can’t do it alone. It’s up to you to work in partnership with your veterinarian to give your pet the care he/she needs to live a great life.

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