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Choosing a Veterinarian

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How do you go about choosing a veterinarian for your dog? Thumbing through the phone book until you find one close to your home may not lead to the best choice. Here are some helpful hints in choosing the best veterinarian for your animal.

If you have friends, family, or neighbors with dogs, ask for a recommendation. Ask about the person’s experiences with the veterinarian: How does the vet handle animals? Is the vet gentle? How is the vet’s “bedside” manner, both with animals and people? Does the vet thoroughly explain the health and condition of the animal to the owner?

Check with the Veterinary Medical Board to find out if there arecomplaints again the veterinarian.

You can also check with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), whose members are veterinary hospitals that have achieved high animal care standards. These vet hospitals fill out a detailed explanation of equipment and services offered. Then, a consultant inspects the facility (medical records, anesthesia, dentistry, and surgery) to ensure it meets AAHA’s standards. Only about 17 percent of vet hospitals around the U.S. and Canada are affiliated with the AAHA.

Before choosing a veterinarian, make an appointment to meet the veterinarian and the staff to find out how they interact with customers and with each other. During your visit:

  • Ask for a tour of the facility. It’s a good idea not to ask for the tour in advance, so that you can see how the facility is kept without warning them of a visitor. Look for cleanliness, especially in the kennel area. If you see unclean kennels or droppings on the floor, it might mean they do not have enough staff to care for the animals. Sanitation is important due to the spread of diseases among animals.
  • Ask if you can sit in during a treatment of an animal. This way you can see how the vet handles the animal, interacts with the pet owner, and whether he or she genuinely cares for animals or is just doing a job.
  • Check to make sure the vet’s license is current. Any veterinarian practicing in the United States has to have graduated from an accredited school and have a license that should be on display. If you don’t see one displayed, ask.
  • Ask if emergency care is offered. Accidents can happen to your pet at any time
  • Find out if your dog has to stay overnight, whether a member of staff will also be present.
  • If you have pet insurance, find out if it is accepted. If not, what about credit cards or payment plans? Vet bills, especially emergency bills, can be costly.

If possible, choose a good veterinarian who is close to home. You don’t want to drive an hour if you have a restless or hurting dog in the back seat.

Do your homework. Before choosing a veterinarian, visit several and then compare notes. Finally, go with your instinct. After meeting the vet, if you don’t feel good about him or her, don’t go back. What is good for one person and dog may not be right for you and your dog.

Updated: November 8, 2012 — 3:44 am

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