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The Definitive Checklist for Selecting the Right Vet for Your Dog

Michael is an avid pet-lover and content writer on topical themes related to dog care, training and behavioral development.

It would be best to connect with one practitioner who will be assigned to have an ongoing relationship with both you and your pet.

It would be best to connect with one practitioner who will be assigned to have an ongoing relationship with both you and your pet.

How to Determine Which Vet Is Suitable

Veterinary services for a dog are required for a variety of reasons including consultations, vaccinations, routine check-ups, and reactive treatments. Frequent visits are especially necessary if the animal is in a neonatal or geriatric stage.

It is advisable not to wait until a seasoned veterinarian is urgently required before starting to look for one. Better to have the contact details of a practitioner with whom one has established a good rapport in advance rather than having to pick the nearest center that is open or one that happens to be at the top of the directory because an unexpected crisis has occurred.

Having additional contact details of an alternative clinic or animal hospital is essential, especially if the local vet does not offer 24/7 services. This covers you if a sudden emergency occurs and your dog needs to be attended to urgently at a time when the regular vet is either unavailable or unreachable. Relying on just one care provider is not recommended, especially if a pet has a known medical history.

It is essential to ensure a suitable veterinary has been identified to avoid a desperate, last-minute search. Below are the five factors you need to consider when making the decision.

  1. Setting
  2. Reputation
  3. Accreditation
  4. Credibility
  5. Service

According to AAHA, almost 60% of pet owners assume that their veterinary institution is accredited when this is not the case at all.

1. Setting

The best way to gain practical insight into a veterinary service provider is to request a tour of their premises and pay them a visit. You will be able to test convenience and accessibility. The geographical location of your vet is of key importance, especially in the event of an unexpected situation that requires immediate medical attention. You will also be able to observe first-hand the type of facilities and equipment they have and the conditions they are kept in.

Check the standards of hygiene they adhere to and the overall cleanliness of the center. Facilities in a veterinary need to be decent and well maintained. If the office and other areas happen to be cramped and dirty, it reflects upon the attitude they have toward their profession and the welfare of animals brought under their care.

Find out about the anesthetics, medications, and procedures they have in their facility. Confirm whether or not they have experience in handling the type of dog breed you have and its medical conditions. Enquire about specifics like how they deal with emergency situations. Having this information will give you a good picture of what to expect.

Meet the staff and have a feel of the prevalent atmosphere there. Take note of how they treat pets and how they serve pet owners. You could book an appointment for a regular check-up as a means of making this observation. Use the opportunity to find out if the staff are knowledgeable and well-informed, and if they undergo continuous training to keep themselves updated on the latest trends in pet care. Are they current in terms of making use of available technologies to improve their services?

Take into account how many practitioners are employed at the center. A center with several vets and nurses doing shifts may be convenient in terms of keeping the place running and meeting customer demand. The downside, however, is that you may have to explain your pet's history anew to a different person each time you visit. To avoid answering the same questions repeatedly, it would be best to connect with one practitioner who will be assigned to have an ongoing relationship with both you and your pet.

Examine the institution's terms and conditions of service. Do their core values resonate with your own? Are there clauses that could place you in a legally challenging situation as their customer? Also, ensure that the center keeps proper medical records and that they will be able to furnish you with the correct paperwork in case you need to change to another institution at a later stage.

2. Accreditation

It is always best to ensure that the veterinary is accredited by a higher authority or governing body. For instance, in the US this could be the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation which proves that the center has met the high standards required of veterinary care providers.

Before an accreditation can be given, a representative of the body must first visit the center and conducts an independent evaluation of their facilities, equipment, and the services they offer. The institution must pass over 900 veterinary care standards to become accredited. According to AAHA, almost 60% of pet owners assume that their veterinary institution is accredited when this is not the case at all.

In the UK, all qualified vets must be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which is the official regulatory body. The vets will have MRCVS or FRCVS as part of their title. The RCVS also has a Practice Standards Scheme which is voluntary and provides vets with accreditations based on the quality of services they offer. To qualify for accreditation, a center must pass a rigorous inspection conducted every four years as well as other intervening checks.

Centers that also provide follow-up sessions or after-care services subsequent to a medical appointment.

Centers that also provide follow-up sessions or after-care services subsequent to a medical appointment.

3. Reputation

Contact a respectable local society that deals with animal welfare and find out which veterinary service they are likely to recommend. An animal orphanage or other humane organization that protects and caters to an assortment of breeds would know where the best professional service can be obtained. Well-known organizations like the American Kennel Club could also assist with such advice.

Connect with other pet owners in your area, including friends and neighbors to gather their first-hand experiences while dealing with the local vets. Testimonies obtained through local networking tend to be much more credible than online reviews which can be traded like commodities. They present a more reliable account of what to expect. The internet is unregulated and a lot of information displayed in form of reviews and stars can be quite misleading.

Proprietors of local animal stores and other pet-related businesses could also be a good source of information as they are in contact with pet owners on a weekly basis. You could also meet with other pet owners in communal venues such as the local dog park and find out where they take their pets for treatment.

Avoid relying exclusively on one source of information, whether online or offline. Consider various avenues before making a conclusion. Also, find out if the center has its own list of references that could be checked out. The authority of those references will also provide a standard by which the establishment can be gauged.

You could put to the test some of the claims that you discover in your quest, including the level and quality of service they offer. it is easy to test the system they have and see how easy or difficult it would be to make an appointment. Is the process streamlined or does one have to overcome a series of hurdles to be attended to? Consider their reputed responsiveness in light of an emergency situation.

Enquire about specifics like how they deal with emergency situations.

Enquire about specifics like how they deal with emergency situations.

4. Credibility

Conduct online research into the history of the vet. Find out when they were established and for how long they have been in operation. A relatively new practice may not have enough experience to handle various health situations.

Check if there are issues in their past that you need to be aware of. Have there been reported incidences of malpractice or improper conduct that could raise red flags? What are the notable successes that can be gleaned from a study of their track record?

There are prominent awards presented to exceptional veterinary service providers who attain the highest professional standards. The panel of the Petplan Veterinary Awards, for example, receives tens of thousands of nominations each year. The judges are made up of leaders in the veterinary industry and former award winners.

It is important not only to ensure that the vet has a proper license, but that the license has not had issues in the past, like withdrawals or suspensions. In some jurisdictions, records of veterinary service providers could be obtained through a state's website or by enquiring at the local veterinary licensing or medical board. You can employ these means to confirm the credibility of their licenses.

A veterinary center will typically have individuals in various staff roles, including receptionists, nurses, managers, surgeons, and technicians. You could study their online professional profiles as well as their digital footprints to gain insight into their backgrounds, personalities, and skill levels. This will help you assess the degree of expertise they bring to the table.

5. Service

Aside from noting their opening hours and confirming whether their schedule fits in with yours, you need to acquaint yourself with the actual service portfolio of the institution. For instance, are they able to perform all diagnostic checks or are there some which must be attended to by a specialist?

Some clinics may not be able to process in-house blood tests or perform x-rays, and others may lack ultrasound equipment. In case the vet does not have the adequate means to offer a comprehensive range of treatments or other services, find out the type of institutions or facilities where they usually refer such cases to.

Check whether or not they have additional or complementary services like weight loss or dog training classes. Apart from the regular treatments, there are centers that also provide follow-up sessions or after-care services subsequent to a medical appointment. See if they have overnight care and if there is an appointed duty nurse who is practically in charge at such times to cater to the needs of the animals.

Due to the side effects that are sometimes associated with the use of conventional medicine, some centersoffer a holistic approach to pet care by combining an assortment of medical services and therapies. As is the case with humans, an overdependence on pharmaceutical or conventional medicine would not be ideal, especially as a long-term solution. There needs to be a balanced approach that also takes into account natural remedies and healing processes.

Consider their payment policies and service charges. What is their preferred mode of payment? Do they offer lines of credit? Enquire if it is possible to pay in installments, or if other convenient payment plans can be arranged. This can be quite advantageous especially if you are on a tight budget. It is best to do the homework in advance. Don't wait until you are in a crisis situation to find out how flexible their financial terms are.

Request them for a price list of their services and then compare it with other veterinary care providers. This will give you insight into the cost-effectiveness of their offer. When you do your background research, check whether they have a reputation of charging customers' credit cards for hidden fees or 'extra services' that were not agreed upon.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

Michael Duncan (author) from Germany on March 18, 2021:

Much appreciated, Devika. Yes, when a pet joins the family, it's best for the human parent to have all bases covered.

Michael Duncan (author) from Germany on March 18, 2021:

Thank you Liz, for taking time to read and provide feedback on this. Indeed, some background knowledge can rescue a pet-owner from dire situations.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 08, 2021:

You have explained and informed us about an important past of a dog's life. Any dog owner needs to follow your tips. An excellent write up here.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 08, 2021:

This is a thorough and very useful guide. I think your advice to check several sources is very helpful.

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