After you have decided to adopt a dog, one of your major concerns would be his overall health. You’ll never know when your dog would get sick, so you need a trusted professional to talk about dog care. Choosing a good veterinarian is like choosing a doctor whom you’d have a long relationship with, so keep in mind that this decision should not be taken lightly. Here are some tips to help you out.
1. Check AAHA accreditation.
The veterinary clinic or hospital you would pick must be accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). This certification is often proudly displayed inside the facility’s premises, and if you don’t see any, go ask. If they are not AAHA members, you cannot be ensured of a safe and quality medical care. Visit the organization’s website at www.aahanet.org to find accredited veterinary clinics and hospitals near you.
2. Ask for recommendations.
It would be best to ask your pet-owning friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues first about their trusted veterinarian. It’s good to hear from those who have experienced a veterinary service firsthand from those you know, so that it would be easier for you to ask questions that are important to you. And for sure, they won’t hesitate to recommend one if they are satisfied with their service.
3. Check out reviews online.
Search the name of a prospective vet or clinic on your search engine and you would see ratings and reviews about them. Remember, not all people would bother to write a review, so remember that those reviews must be intense opinions (good or bad). If you’re reading a lot of angry comments, then don’t bother checking them out.
4. Check expertise and qualifications.
Your chosen veterinarian must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree. There are vets who would work mainly with dogs only, or cats only, or any other species alone, and these focused types would be a better choice than a general practice vet. Dog-limited vets have devoted their studies and practice on dogs alone, so they are the more preferable experts in dog care. If there is none like them available near your area, those who limit their practice with only few species (including dogs, of course) would also be great.
5. Know their pet care philosophies.
When it comes to your pet’s health, it would be very important if your vet’s philosophies are the same as yours. Take note that there are different types of veterinarians: allopathic, holistic and integrative. Allopathic vets are those trained in conventional or Western medicine, and their general approach would be treating symptoms of disease using drugs and/or surgery. Holistic vets are those who are also trained like allopathic vets, but they chose to practice alternative methods of healing such as nutrition and movement therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and the like. Meanwhile, there are integrative vets who combine philosophies of Western and alternative medicine. Choose the vet with a healthcare and treatment approach you are most comfortable with.
6. Know about their services.
Ask about particular areas of health care you might concern your pet with. Would they be able to provide those special dog care services? A good vet hospital should have access to veterinary ultrasound, x-rays, IV pumps, lab tests and monitoring of blood and eye pressure. Inquire about who they refer to if they would encounter specialized or complex cases.
7. Ask for a tour and know how the clinic operates.
A good clinic or hospital would be happy to show you their facilities. They would help their prospective clients get acquainted with their rooms and services available. It must be sanitary, especially on surgery rooms. Know about their hours of operation as well as their after-hour and emergency patient policies. If your dog gets confined, how often can you call for updates or come for a visit? Also ask about average costs of routine procedures and check-ups, and their billing policy. Some may allow splitting up payments.
8. Observe behavior.
A courteous and well-mannered staff is a big plus factor. If you want to inquire about setting an appointment, they must entertain you with a friendly attitude. The veterinarian, vet technicians and assistants must also be communicative with you and must be ready to help you with all your concerns about your beloved friend. See how they handle animals; they must be calm and gentle towards your dog. Also observe how your pet reacts when handled by the vet – if your dog seem to be comfortable with them, it means they like them. It is very important that you and your pet gets along with the vet. To build rapport, you may let your dog meet the vet before its formal visit, if possible.
9. Take note that a busy clinic is a better clinic.
A full waiting area might put you off and make you say, “Let’s just go to the next clinic.” Well, think again. A busy and hectic clinic means it is popular and well-liked by clients. You may converse with those on the waiting area, and you may find out why they keep going back that clinic.