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What To Look For In A Vet

August 26, 2013

Finding the right vet can be a difficult choice.

You’ll want someone who has excellent animal skills, as well as excellent people skills, too. To make the best choice, start your search when you have some time; you’ll want to decide on a vet before you have an emergency.

Photo courtesy Brit.

To learn about veterinarians in your area, you can try a few things. First you can ask friends, family members, neighbors, and other folks in your community for recommendations. (Here’s a list of CH cat friendly vets!) That should give you a starting point. You can also look online via sites like Yelp, which will also provide reviews from customers.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends that you check to see if the vet is a member of the American Animal Hospital Association. If the vet you’re looking into is an AAHA member, the vet has pursued and met the Association’s standards for the facility, equipment, and quality care.

Similarly, you can check if the vet is a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. That will tell you if the practice has been certified as a “Cat Friendly Practice.” A vet may also be certified in feline medicine/surgery through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.

“If you’re looking for a specialist, ask about board certification,” suggests the HSUS. “This means the vet has studied an additional two to four years in the specialty area and passed a rigorous exam.”

Once you’ve learned of some vets you’d like to investigate in your area, write down your questions (including some of those below!) and call to schedule a visit to meet the staff, tour the facility, and learn more about the practice.

Some things you may want to look into and ask about include:

  • What’s your first impression when you walk in? Is the facility clean, modern, and well-organized?
  • How well does everyone communicate?
  • In general, are you comfortable asking questions with these folks?
  • Is the location convenient? Do they have parking?
  • How much are their fees? Do they fit your budget? Are there discounts available for senior citizens, etc.?
  • Is the practice AAAHA-accredited?
  • How many veterinarians are in the practice? Do they cover for one another if one is absent?
  • Do they have special interests, such as geriatrics?
  • Are there technicians or other staff members? Do you like the staff? Are they caring, calm, competent, and courteous?
  • How are overnight patients monitored?
  • Are dogs and cats located in separate areas?
  • Are diagnostics, like X-rays and blood work, done in-house or referred to a specialist?
  • Are there emergency services available?

In addition to these questions and concerns, take a moment to think about your pet’s situation/condition and come up with related questions that you’d like answered ahead of time. And don’t be shy! Most vets will appreciate your interest and concern.

What questions have you asked your vet to learn more about the practice? Please share in the comments!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Monika permalink
    August 26, 2013 8:28 am

    Amanda,again well written and informative.

    I would also check with your State’s Veterinary Licensing Board. In most cases you can do that on-line. There (at least in our state) you can see if there are any sanctions against the vet and see if there were any disciplinary actions or complaints.
    Most people will choose a vet that is close to their home for conveniency and do not ask around or check reviews etc.
    In conclusion there are many “Good” vets but there are also “Bad” ones. The extra time to do the background check and then the interview is well worth it.

    • August 26, 2013 9:00 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Monika! Well said. That’s another great step that folks can take to learn more about a (potential) vet.

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