There are many businesses to track down when you move into a new home. If you've gone far enough from your previous place, you have to find new doctors, the closest grocery, the best local restaurants and stores, among other places. And if you have a pet, finding a new animal clinic is on the list, too.
This can feel a bit daunting since there are so many options in most cities. According to the U.S. Census, more than 30,000 establishments throughout the country offer vet services. There are also almost 57,000 veterinarians available to care for your pet. It's not easy to narrow down a list like that.
Some methods you can use to find the best animal clinic in your area come from asking for recommendations and doing your own research on a place. These strategies can help you check all the right boxes to make sure your pet gets the best care possible.
You have more resources than you might expect when it comes to getting advice on which vet clinic to pick for your pet. Between people who know your new neighborhood the best and those who know your pet, you'll most likely get a lot of opinions to help direct your choice. Don't hesitate to check in with:
Putting up an inquiry on any online community networks can also yield vetted results. If your new neighborhood has a Facebook group or is on Nextdoor, one post gives you access to a large number of locals. These are your experts, who know the best places to go to for almost every type of service.
The right veterinarian for you, aside from being a qualified and recommended pet doctor, should work at a clinic that you can get to easily. Especially if you have a pet emergency, you don't want to have to go far once you make an appointment.
How close you want your vet to be can depend on the health of your pet. If you have a younger, healthy animal, proximity can get a little lax. If you have an older pet and you have concerns, try to find a vet a little closer.
If you're worried about access to pet care, once you select your regular vet, ask them about the closest emergency animal hospital. Emergency vets, which are typically open 24-hours, are available in certain locations when it's impossible to see your regular veterinarian. If something goes wrong with your pet and you can't wait for your clinic to open, this is where you should go. Some conditions that may lead to an emergency visit for your pet include:
After figuring out what good vets are close by, the next step is to do some research on the quality of the clinic. “Nearly 60 percent of pet owners think their veterinary hospital is accredited when it is not. AAHA-accredited hospitals are the only animal hospitals to regularly pass onsite evaluations based on more than 900 standards of veterinary care," says the American Animal Hospital Association.
The accreditation process ensures everything is up to standard. This includes equipment, patient care, staff and facilities, which is why it's a valuable piece of information to have. Non-accredited clinics may be of equal caliber, but you have the peace of mind of knowing the level of quality remains high with this status.
Additionally, consider researching the actual vet you'll see with your pet. You can check to see if they're board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. “Most veterinarians performing broad-based clinical practice are not board certified. The ABVP board-certified veterinarian has demonstrated they are capable of providing a level of clinical practice that is clearly superior to the norm of the profession."
The certification confirms a veterinarian's ability to work with a specific species and confirms they have the knowledge to care, reduce and prevent disease in your pet. If you have a cat, you can find vets with an ABVP certification working with felines, and the same goes if you have a pup.
The next step after you've narrowed down your vet clinic options is to go and check the places out. Call and ask if you can have a tour of the facility and meet the vet your pet will see.
You want to at least see an exam room and get a feel for the overall cleanliness and organization of the place. Observe how they keep dogs and cats separate and take note of anything unusual like strange odors. If you think your pet would handle it OK, bring them along to see how comfortable they feel, even though no pet really likes the vet.
While there, don't hesitate to ask a lot of questions to get to know the practice better. You can prepare these in advance to make sure you cover all the topics that are important to you.
Some basic questions you can include are:
As you ask, take note of how the vet or staff member answers. Do they feel personable and forthcoming? If they can't easily communicate the answer to these basic questions, it may be a red flag that this vet isn't right for you. How you feel about the vet matters since you're the one they're communicating with when it comes to the health of your pet.
One other thing to discuss with your vet before you schedule your first appoint is average costs. At the very least, your pet will see the vet once a year for their routine exam. This check-up includes their annual vaccinations like rabies and distemper, along with a head-to-toe exam and review of vitals.
Extra health screenings may also take place based on the age of your pet or their medical history. Knowing about what these visits will cost each year can help you budget effectively. According to the American Pet Products Association, routine vet visits cost around $212 for dogs and $160 for cats.
If you're concerned about the cost of pet care, you may want to consider pet insurance. Primarily providing coverage for dogs and cats, pet insurance helps with the costs of pet care outside of routine visits.
There are four options that range from covering medical costs from accidents or illness along with certain maintenance treatments. It's best to research your options before deciding which plan is best for your pet.
The earlier in your pet's life you get coverage though, the better since your pet is more likely to develop pre-existing medical conditions later in life that can make it harder to get full coverage. Make sure to verify that your new vet accepts the policy type you have.
While you're visiting potential veterinary offices, it's equally important to watch out for red flags. Some of these might not materialize until after you've had an actual visit, but don't worry, changing vets is much easier than when you have to change doctors. Keep an eye out for:
A healthy pet is a happy pet who sticks by your side for a long time. The best way to care for your pet besides daily love, playtime and exercise is by annual visits to a trusted vet.
Make sure you take the time to locate one when you move somewhere new so you're prepared to give your pet whatever care they need.
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