Kelly Bradley

Your pet is a special part of your family, and you look after them as much as you would anyone else you love. This is why you only want the best for them when it comes to finding the right vet clinic. After all, your pet should be getting only high-quality care.

If something should go wrong, you should feel confident taking your pet to your vet, knowing that he or she is more than capable of caring for Fido or Fluffy. However, this begs the question: How do I find the right vet clinic for my four-legged friend?

Is the Clinic Accredited?

Make sure the clinic you're looking into has been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. This organization ensures everything is up to par as far as equipment, patient care, staff, facilities, etc.

You can also check the background of the veterinarians themselves, seeing if they've been certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Veterinarians who complete the three-year program acquire extensive knowledge and expertise above what's needed to practice veterinary medicine.

Ask for Recommendations

While you should always research a vet clinic before going there, asking for recommendations from family and friends who have pets can be a great start. They may be able to point you in the direction of places you should try or clinics you want to stay away from.

You’ll probably feel more comfortable going to a vet's office after someone you know and trust recommended them. When you're talking to this person about the vet clinic, ask them how long the clinic has overseen the care of their pet, along with other questions regarding the facility's strengths and weaknesses.

Check With Your Current (Or Past) Vet

If you're moving to a new area and need to find the best vet clinic for you, your current vet may be able to refer you to a high-quality facility nearby.

Come in With a List of Questions

Asking the right questions will tell you whether the clinic is right for you and Fido or Fluffy. Bring a list of anything you're interested in finding out about, whether it's how pets are monitored or where the vets studied veterinary medicine.

Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Does the clinic have licensed veterinary technicians?
  • Are dogs and cats kept in separate areas?
  • What emergency services are available?
  • How many veterinarians work here?
  • Are appointments required? If so, how far in advance should they be scheduled?
  • What kind of equipment do you have here? (A good clinic should have access to everything from X-ray machines and in-house lab tests to IV pumps and blood pressure monitors.)
  • Do you refer your patients to specialists? (i.e. dermatologist or oncologist)
  • What is the best way to get in contact with you?
  • What are your hours?
  • Does your clinic accept my insurance? If not, what are my payment options?
  • What is your staff turnover? (A high turnover rate can indicate a low-quality work environment, which may not be best for your pet.)

As you ask these questions, take note of how your vet answers them. Is he or she personable and willing to give you all the information you need? Or is this person hard to communicate with or disagreeable? If so, you may want to look elsewhere.

Ask for a Tour

The veterinarian should not be shy about showing off their clinic. Of course, you may not be able to see operating rooms if they're being used, but getting a tour allows you to see how clean and organized the facility is.

Take note of other aspects too, like unusual odors. Think about bringing your dog or cat along for this tour to witness how your pet and your veterinarian interact. It's important that your pet be comfortable with your vet. Although, keep in mind that most pets usually aren't excited for a trip to the vet.

Pay Attention to Red Flags

As you tour the clinic and ask any necessary questions, there are a few red flags that you should be looking for, such as poor communication, bad hygiene, and refusal to refer to other specialty clinics to treat your pet.

Find Out About Specialties

Is there any special treatment that your dog or cat might need? For instance, some veterinary clinics specialize is behavior, dermatology, radiology, cardiology, etc. If your furry friend has some unique health issues, it's important to know that those will be looked after.

Consider Location

While this probably won't end up being the deciding factor, location is important when choosing a vet clinic.

Should an emergency arise and you need to take your pet to the vet in a hurry, you don't want to have to drive 20 minutes from your pet-friendly apartment to get there. Search for clinics that are easy for you to get to.

Choosing the right veterinarian is largely based on the preferences of you and your pet. A clinic that works for someone else might not necessarily be the right choice for you.

Take the time to do your research and visit the clinic to ensure your four-legged friend will be receiving the best care possible.

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