When you bring an animal home they become 100% dependent on you for their health, security, and provision, and that means that you need a qualified and reliable veterinarian ready to step in and help you when the need arises.
But choosing a veterinarian isn’t a responsibility to be taken lightly or put off until it’s too late. Good veterinarians may have a long waiting list, and different providers often have very different specialties and services available.
Not only do you need to find a veterinarian with the right training and qualifications, but you need to find one who makes you feel comfortable, who can be relied on for fast care, and whose advice you can trust.
Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to narrow down your search as you pick an animal health specialist you can depend on for many happy years to come.
Veterinarian Qualifications and Accreditation
Even routine pet care must come from a provider with the appropriate training, experience, and resources. That’s why you should pay special attention to veterinarian listings which have an accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
While not all animal hospitals have the accreditation (and a clinic may still provide impeccable care without it) formal AAHA accreditation allows truly exceptional animal hospitals to show that they’ve gone above and beyond, meeting over 900 standards that cover every area of their practice. This, in turn, all but guarantees that at one of these centers your pet will receive the highest quality care they need to stay healthy.
Veterinary Specialists and Board Certifications
All veterinarians are trained to provide a level of basic care for all kinds of animals, ranging from fishes, to frogs, to rabbits, cats, dogs, horses, and even zoo animals. However, when it comes to intensive treatment and expertise many veterinarians choose to specialize, taking additional classes in a specific area of study and eventually passing evaluations to prove their expertise in that specialty.
Currently, there are 41 distinct specialties recognized by the American Veterinarian Medical Society (AVMA), and depending on your pet’s specific needs, finding the right type of specialist to provide care can be critical.
For owners with unusual animals like birds, reptiles, or a small mammals it’s often a good idea to find a veterinarian who has specialized in the care of that type of creature. This way owners can know that their vet has a true depth of skill and experience handling their type of pet, and that their specialist will be more prepared to deal with any potential problems that may appear.
Otherwise, pet owners who are dealing with a specific concern like skin troubles, cancer, vision, or behavioral problems may consider working with their local veterinarian to find a nearby veterinary specialist who can provide more comprehensive treatment to address that issue. However, when selecting a specialist owners should make sure that all candidates are Board Certified, indicating two to four years of additional study in the area of expertise as well as a passing grade in a rigorous examination.
Attitude and Pet Care Approach
Even if your first appointments with a new vet are routine, there is a good chance that in the future you may be relying on them to provide care in a serious and emotionally stressful situation. This is why it is important to choose a vet who you can connect with (and who your pet can connect with) on a personal level and who is friendly and able to manage your animal and interact with them effectively.
Schedule a tour with your top candidates to view their facility before you make an appointment. The animal hospital and your vet will be happy to accommodate you, so be friendly and have a list of questions to ask.
Listen to the responses and see how you feel about the vet and how they approach pet care issues like euthanasia, chronic diseases, declawing, spaying and neutering. With luck, your views will align and you’ll be able to tell if the person you’re consulting has a warm, caring personality you can trust and rely on in the future.
Location, Hours, and Availability
While you shouldn’t sacrifice quality of care for convenience, having a nearby veterinarian can be extremely helpful. Not only will it make for shorter rides during routine visits, but you’ll be able to visit more quickly in emergency situations if the hospital ever advises you over the phone to bring your pet in for a quick evaluation. Plus, because great animal hospitals are always busy, there is a good chance you may not always be able to get an appointment when you prefer, turning a shorter commute into a huge blessing.
Our online veterinarian directory can help you quickly narrow down vets in your area, while providing you with basic availability and contact info. Once you reach out to a site, be sure to ask about the average wait time when scheduling an appointment, how emergency calls are handled (especially after hours or during holidays), whether the vet ever does house calls, and if you are able to schedule an appointment with a specific veterinarian on staff or not.
If you’re lucky enough find a veterinarian school near your location in our vet directory, you should consider them as a serious option for your pet’s care. While this may sound surprising, many of these schools offer extremely high quality veterinary services provided by some of the best veterinarians in the nation in order to give students real world exposure to the veterinary practice. Your animal will be seen by an extremely qualified professional with one or more students assisting and observing. The care is usually top notch and often comes at a discounted rate, and multiple specialists will be available from the school in case they are needed.
There are a few other pet services which can be as important to your pet’s health as vaccines or medical evaluations, and which are offered by many local animal hospitals. These services include pet boarding, grooming, obedience classes, and even specialized dental care. See what pet services are available near you, what the costs are, and how much more value and convenience can be added through your new relationship with your chosen animal care facility.
Choosing The Right Vet Really Does Matter!
Remember, there are few things in life that can bring as much joy, comfort, and affection to your life as a beloved family pet. But as you take care of the animals you are entrusted with, remember that during their lives there will be other problems that will require the help of a qualified, compassionate and experienced veterinary professional. Make sure you find a veterinarian you can trust today.