Good veterinarians are hard to come by. It’s getting harder to find the country vet who knows all about you and your dog and can tell you all of the local gossip. Vets who offered discounts for multiple pets and client loyalty are disappearing. In his place we have vets with more sophisticated equipment but often less time for you and your dog. He or she may see lots of clients every day and be part of a large practice. You may not see the same vet each time you go to the offices.
How can you find a good veterinarian these days? Here are a few tips.
1. Ask around. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to find a good vet. If you have friends with pets ask them who they use and whether they like them or not. Ask them about their experiences with the vet. Have they been satisfied or are they looking for a new vet? How is the vet with their dog? (Or cat or whatever!) You can learn a lot just by talking to a friend.
2. Make a list of some of the things that are important to you in a vet. Do you need a vet who specializes? Probably not, unless you are a breeder or you have a dog with a particular health problem, but if you do need a specialist, start looking. They can be hard to find. Do you need a vet who will write prescriptions for you so you can buy heartworm medication online? This can be a bone of contention with some vets so you may have to try several vets before you find one who is willing to do this for you. It’s certainly worth pursuing because heartworm medication usually costs twice as much at the vet’s office. Do you need a vet who handles his own emergencies? This is becoming rare. You may have to look far and wide for a vet like this. Most vets now send their emergency cases to a vet emergency clinic at nights and on the weekends.
Decide what is most important to you and look for a vet who can meet your needs.
3. Call vet offices near you and talk to the receptionists. Better yet, go by and meet them in person. Discuss billing arrangements. Veterinary care can be very expensive, especially if your dog has a serious problem that requires surgery and post-op care. What is the vet’s policy about payment? Does he or she require you to pay upfront? Can you make payments? Will they turn your dog away if you can’t pay for the entire procedure ahead of time? These are important considerations and it’s best to know how your vet handles these matters before your dog is in a life or death situation.
4. Does the vet take pet health insurance? Some vets do take health insurance for pets now. If so, which ones?
5. Find out the days and office hours for the vets near you. Do they fit your schedule? Some vets are closed on Saturdays or may only be open half a day. They may not stay open late through the week. Will you be able to work with their schedule? You can have the greatest vet in the world just down the street from you but if you have to work when they’re open it won’t do your dog any good.
6. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a listing of state veterinary medical associations. You can find veterinarians who are listed with these state medical associations here: http://www.avma.org/statevma . This is an excellent place to look for accredited vets in your area.