How to find a veterinarian

Finding the right vet is key to maintaining your pet's health.
Keeping a pet healthy is the responsibility of every pet owner, which makes it imperative to find a good veterinarian.

See these profiles of veterinarians. Then follow these steps to find the vet who's right for you and your pet.

Visit and tour veterinary facilities before you commit

It's a good idea to visit at least a few veterinary facilities near your home before you need one in an emergency. When you visit, ask yourself a few questions about each office:
  • Is it in a convenient location?
  • Is it clean, spacious and comfortable?
  • Is its waiting area sufficient and do patients have to wait for an extended time before seeing someone?
  • Are dogs and cats kept separately?
  • Is the vet's staff courteous, professional and passionate about caring for animals?
  • Are the veterinarian's hours convenient?
  • Are emergency visits available 24 hours a day?

Ask about higher levels of care

Your veterinarian should be equipped to do at least some of the following procedures onsite: ultrasound examinations, dental X-rays, endoscopic examinations, electrocardiograms and blood work.

If any office you visit cannot provide these services, consider carefully whether you want to use it for your pet as it may not be able to provide even adequate care for your pet in time of crisis.

Look for additional certification

The American Animal Hospital Association requires its members to meet or exceed industry standards in their facilities, equipment and level of care. You also may ask if any doctors in the practice have pursued additional certification in a specific area of veterinary medicine.

For example, if you have an older pet, you will want to know whether anyone in the practice has additional education in geriatric veterinary medicine.

Costs of care and insurance

Make sure you have a clear understanding of a veterinarian's billing practices and confirm how much appointments, walk-in visits and emergency care will cost. Many pet owners now carry pet insurance to cover unexpected hospital bills.

If you have insurance for your pet, make sure that your vet has a process set up to handle payment. Insurance is a wise idea for older pets and for animals with a history of illness.

When you're ready to bring your new furry friend home.

Whether this is your first pet or your 21st there are always things a new pet needs to feel welcome. Here are some basics for getting your home and family ready for a new pet...

  • Food and supplies
  • Plenty of toys and treats to keep them occupied
  • A comfy place to sleep.
  • Newspaper (especially if you are housetraining a new puppy)
  • A crate or cage
  • An id tag or microchip (most vets or animal shelters will do this for little or no cost)
  • Don’t forget most places have leash laws
  • Find an obedience trainer
  • Pet proof your home. Make sure cats especially can’t get into potentially dangerous household items.
  • Introduce your new friend gently to other pets and kids. New pets are often frightened and will need an adjustment period.
  • If you can’t take your pet on vacation or work extended hours, consider hiring a pet sitter to look in on your pet while you’re away.
  • Last but not least, have patience. A pet is lot of work, but if properly cared for can be a best friend for life.

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