For many people finding the right vet involves pulling up Google Maps and choosing the vet’s office that is the closest to their home. While 20 years ago proximity might have been the most important factor, times have certainly changed! It is important to choose the correct vet for the development and long term health of your pet. In this article, we will explore what the differences are between vet offices and try to help you find the right vet for your pet and your family.
One of the largest factors in veterinary medicine these days is choosing a methodology. Some vets practice traditional medicine and others take a holistic approach to healing. Traditional medicine would remind you of going to the doctor and typically involves vaccines and surgeries to deal with health issues that arise. Holistic healing generally focuses on natural treatments and lifelong nutritional choices that prevent medical issues before they start. The vet you choose should utilize a methodology that you believe in and should likely mirror your beliefs on medicine utilized for humans. In addition to the two extremes of these approaches, I have found a large number of vets that are open-minded to both approaches. In my opinion, this gives you as the pet’s owner the most amount of information to digest and choose between in the care of your four-legged companions.
The second largest factor is the size of the vet practice. Let's focus on the two extremes that I see the most often, single veterinary practices compared to large multi-vet clinics. At a single veterinary practice you have the advantage of knowing the vet you are dealing with and most of the time - you’ll also know all of the employees at the practice as well. It gives you that personalized feel. Large multi-vet clinics generally do not have this feel and you likely won’t know the front desk staff and might not even know the vet that you are working with. Large vet offices do however have a leg up in the fact that the different vets can provide their experiences to each other and provide an overall more comprehensive experience. Many of these practices have more equipment and offer extended hours and possibly even emergency care. When done well, a large vet practice with multiple vets can provide more support for your pet. A good middle ground that I have experienced is a single veterinarian who will recommend a larger or educational vet (an educational facility generally has students, multiple instructors and tend to have leading edge research and equipment) when they experience issues that need a second opinion or equipment that they don’t have.
After making your decision on those two topics, you should have enough information to look at the vet offices around you and begin to do your research. Look up vets that fit your requirements in your area. Look at online reviews as they will tell you a lot about the practice and how they do business. It is important to look at how they handle any bad reviews that they have online, there should be a response and it should show if they handle difficult situations in a reasonable manner.
Now that you have a short list of vets that meet your criteria, I would suggest to set up a first time appointment and conduct it much like an interview. Rate your experiences with each vet from the booking experience through how they handle their waiting room. You’d be amazed at the different booking technologies and waiting room experiences I have seen. I’ve even visited a vet that has free beer and live music inside of their waiting room. Ask the vets questions that you are concerned about and see what their answers are. Here is a list of questions that you can utilize:
- How frequently do you want to see my pet?
- What tests do you recommend that my pet have to ensure they are healthy?
- Which vaccinations do you recommend?
- Which foods/treats do you recommend for dogs?
- What exercise do you recommend for my dog?
- What is your thought on a holistic healing approach?
- What is your thought on the use of CBD oil for dogs?
- Should I purchase pet insurance?
- Which Flea and Tick medication do you recommend?
- Do you perform surgeries or do you recommend a veterinary hospital that does?
Asking multiple vets these questions will give you a wealth of knowledge about the health of your pet, but in addition should give you a great insight on the vet’s beliefs and their practice. You are looking for a vet that is knowledgeable on all of these topics, aligns with your views, and takes their time to discuss the topics with you. Remember that looking for a vet is a process to ensure that your pet is healthy and lives the longest life possible!