Ten Questions to Ask a New Vet
What you need to know before choosing your pet's doctor.
Finding the right veterinarian to care for your pets can be difficult. Just like choosing a physician for yourself, the process should result in discovering the right mix of education, experience, and personality.
Before meeting with a potential new vet, arm yourself with knowledge. Read the information on the veterinary practice's website. Search the web for testimonials. Locate the vet's Facebook or Twitter page, if they have one, and see what their clients are saying. And be sure to note any red flags.
Schedule an informational meeting to learn about both the vet and the practice, and take your pet to the first meeting -- not for an exam, but to see what kind of chemistry the vet has (or doesn't have!) with your dog or cat.
And take this list of critical questions to that first meeting to gather all the important information you need to decide if the potential vet is a good fit for you and your pet.
Logistics: These questions will help you determine if the practice's policies meet your criteria. Decide in advance which of these are nonnegotiable. For example, if you want your pet to see the same vet on every visit, pay specific attention to the answer to question one.
- How many vets are in the practice? Will you see the same vet every time or do the doctors switch or rotate without notice?
- How far in advance does the practice typically schedule appointments?
- If you need same-day care, will the practice see you or refer you to an emergency vet?
- What are the qualifications of the technical staff? If your pet needs a simple procedure (like a blood draw or an anal gland expression), can you see a tech or do you need an appointment with the main vet?
- If your dog has a specific disease or ailment, does the vet have experience treating that condition?
- Are the vets open to alternative treatments like chiropractic care or acupuncture?
- Does the practice offer emergency or after-hours care? If not, where would the practice send you?
- Does the vet or practice have a referral network in case you need specialized care (for instance, from a veterinary dermatologist or an oncologist)?
- What is the best way to contact the vet during the business day and after hours?
- Is he or she willing to answer questions via email?
Care: Consider the health of your pet and tailor these questions to address any needs or conditions that he or she has, especially if your pet may need specialized care in the future.
Communication: It's important that you can get in touch with your vet when you need to! Make sure the practice and your specific vet have open lines of communication, and know all the channels you can use to contact him or her.
Finding an appropriate vet for you and your pet may take time, but with some extra research, the task can be less challenging and lead to fewer headaches in the long run.
How did you select your pet's doctor? What questions do you think are important to answer before choosing a vet? Tell us below!
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