How to Find a Good Vet for Your Dog
An important part of pet ownership is having a grrreat relationship with a veterinarian. At Hounds Lounge, we know first-paw that the sooner you find a doc for your dog, the better! While it is a big decision, choosing a good vet doesn’t have to be a ruff process. Below, we provide advice on how to find a good vet for your woof.
When You’ll Need to Find a Good Vet
There are various stages in pet parenthood when you might need to know how to find a good vet for your dog. We dig into them below.
You’re about to get a new puppy or dog.
This is actually an ideal time for choosing a good vet. It’s smart to find a vet before you ever bring your dog home, so that you have a place to take Fido if any health concerns arise. In our blog, The Ultimate First-Time Dog Owner Checklist, we recommend:
Before you bring your new puppy or dog home, you will want to find a veterinarian you trust and schedule an appointment for after your fur child’s arrival. Your pooch will need to go in for a visit to get vaccinations and medications sorted out. This is an easy way to get started out on the right – and healthiest – paw!
You just got a new dog.
When you bring home a new fur family member, life gets busy pretty quickly. However, you can’t get distracted and forget to find a vet for your new pet! You don’t want to wait until your woof is injured or until their vaccinations are due. If you’re wondering how to find a good vet, the key is to start looking for a good fit early-on in pet parenthood – or, as we mention above, before you ever bring Fido home!
You’ve moved to a new place.
Perhaps you have always been diligent about taking your woof to vet appointments, but you recently moved to a new town – or will be moving soon – and need to find a new practitioner for Fido.
Your vet is retiring.
A good veterinarian will give you plenty of notice before they retire. However, you should start looking for a new vet as soon as pawsible to be ready for the future.
You want a change.
Maybe you and Fido’s relationship with your vet has run its course. There’s nothing wrong with this scenario. However, if you’re finding yourself in this position, give yourself a refresher on how to find a good vet by reading the rest of this blog!
How to Pick a Good Vet for Your Dog
If it’s time for you to start the search for a new vet, here’s how we suggest you sniff one out.
When it comes to choosing a good vet, you can’t beat word-of-mouth. If you have family, neighbors and/or friends who are pet parents, allow them to bark their praises about their vet. If you don’t run with many dog moms and dads, ask folks at the dog park! All dog-lovers – even strangers – love talking about their pooches and how to find a vet.
A grrreat place to get vet recommendations is at your local groomer or doggie daycare. These facilities see a lot of dogs and know about all the vets in the area. At Hounds Lounge Pet Resort and Spa, we offer Dog Grooming and Doggie Daycare, and we’re always happy to aid you in choosing a good vet for your woof! In fact, here’s a list of local vet clinics we pawsitively love.
If you’re in a situation where you’re moving or your vet is retiring, you can always get a new vet recommendation from your current dogtor. If anyone knows how to find a good vet, it’s another vet! In the case that you’re moving far away, your vet may be able to look into their network of colleagues across the country to help you find a new practitioner with a similar philosophy.
Online reviews can also help you figure out how to find a good vet, but remember that personal referrals from fellow pooch-lovin’ hoomans are top dog.
You should choose a vet clinic that isn’t too far from your home. Realistically, you don’t want to have to drive more than 30 minutes if there’s an emergency. Every minute counts.
Additionally, if Fido isn’t a fan of car rides, that’s all the more reason to find a vet clinic you can get to quickly – perhaps even by foot!
Visit the Office By Yourself First
In the early stages of your veterinarian search, you’ll want to visit a few clinics by yourself. This way, you can get a feel for the clinic without bringing Fido into an uncomfortable or potentially unsafe environment, plus you won’t have to spend a dime.
Simply reach out to a clinic to see if you can do a walkthrough, as well as meet with the vet and staff. If the clinic doesn’t allow you to visit, you can immediately strike them from your list of potential veterinarian options. An upstanding vet clinic will be happy to give you a tour and get to know you.
When you’re visiting, stay observant. Furrst and foremost, make sure the clinic is clean and organized – it is a dogtor’s office, after all. You’ll also want to consider the size of the clinic. Is it huge or tiny? Is the waiting room crowded? Are patients moving in and out in a timely manner? How many vets and techs are working?
It’s also a good idea to look at the patients and pet parents in the waiting room. Do they appear somewhat at ease? Do they seem to have a good relationship and rapport with the clinic’s staff? If you have hooman kiddos who tend to join you and Fido for vet visits, does this appear to be a child-friendly environment?
These are all important details to take in when thinking about how to find a good vet. Below are specific questions you should ask while you’re visiting a facility.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Good Vet
As you’re touring a vet clinic, work the questions below into the conversation. It’s important that you get answers before you leave!
Ask about the specific services the vet clinic offers.
How to choose a vet includes looking at all the clinic’s offerings. Below are questions you should ask, and the staff should easily be able to answer.
- Can this clinic do everything in house, or do labs and x-rays need to be done elsewhere? Most clinics can perform labs and x-rays, but it’s still a good idea to ask. You should also confirm that the vet clinic offers medical boarding in case your pooch needs to stay overnight after a surgery.
- Based on your dog’s age, potential health problems and breed, they might need a specialist or a clinic with special equipment. Does the clinic have any specialists in-house? If not, do they have any recommendations nearby?
- If you have other pets of different species, can this vet care for all of them? Some vets mainly treat dogs, while others can even be certified to treat exotic patients, like birds and reptiles.
- Do they take after-hour emergency visits? If not, who do they recommend?
There is a big difference between a vet clinic and an emergency animal hospital. While a vet clinic may be mostly appointment-only and closed during the evening hours, an emergency animal hospital never requires appointments and should be open when most primary care vet clinics are closed, including nights, weekends and even holidays.
In the event that your dog has a problem that may require emergency treatment, call your general vet clinic if they are open, and they will either get you in to see a vet or provide you with further instructions. If your vet clinic does not offer after-hour emergency services, you should know where the nearest pet ER is located and have their phone number saved in case you ever need them.
What type of certifications and/or accreditations does the clinic hold?
Common certifications/accreditations include:
- Fear-Free®: The mission of this certification is “to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety & stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.”
- The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Certification (ABVP Certification) sets vets apart “among the most ambitious, forward-thinking professionals in veterinary care, driven by a commitment to the wellbeing of [the] animal and those who care for them.”
- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program “teaches the whole veterinary team crucial skills to support a culture of wellbeing in the workplace.”
- The AVMA Veterinary First Responder Certificate Program “directs veterinarians and veterinary students to pre-evaluated courses on disaster and emergency response, verifying that participants satisfy all core competencies required to respond efficiently and effectively to disasters.”
- American Animal Hospital Association (AHAA) Accreditation “signifies that your veterinary practice has met or exceeded stringent standards that encompass all aspects of veterinary medicine, from pain management to medical record-keeping, and has committed to a path of continuous improvement.”
Ask how many veterinarians the clinic has on staff and if you can request to see the same practitioner every time.
For some pet parents and doggie patients, consistency is essential. For others with very busy schedules, the convenience of having several vets on call at various times is a good fit.
Impawtant Note: Along with vet availability, you should also ask about the clinic’s hours. If you work a 9-5 job, you might consider a vet clinic that stays open later into the evening or offers Saturday appointments.
Discuss the clinic’s approach to treatments.
When it comes to how to find a good vet, you sometimes have to ask hard questions. If your dog were to get a serious illness or injury, consider these questions and the answers you receive.
- Do you want a strictly holistic approach when it comes to treatment?
- Are you interested in alternative treatments?
- What is the vet clinic’s approach to treating elderly dogs?
- Will the vet perform house calls if needed, especially for end of life care?
- Does your treatment philosophy match this clinic’s philosophy?
Ask about fees.
Your pet’s health is a serious investment, but choosing a good vet shouldn’t break the bank.
- How much does a regular check-up cost? What about vaccinations?
- Does the clinic take pet insurance? If they do and you have insurance on your pet, does the clinic take your pet insurance plan? More and more vet clinics are accepting pet insurance these days, but it’s always a good idea to get confirmation from the clinic you’re touring.
- Does the clinic offer payment plans, financing or other options? Do they take pet care credit cards (which are a real thing!)
Does the vet clinic offer dental services?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
A vet or board-certified veterinary dentist should be able to provide dental procedures. If the clinic you’re visiting offers dental services, be sure to ask about pricing.
Finally, Bring Your Woof in For a Check-Up
After you’ve toured a vet clinic and asked all the questions above, you are one step closer to choosing a good vet for your dog. Don’t get discouraged if a clinic isn’t right for you – simply book another tour somewhere else! Once you find a clinic you really like, you should bring Fido in as the deciding factor of how to find a good vet.
Start by booking a regular check-up or another one of the clinic’s inexpensive services, and bring your woof in for a visit. This is the only way to truly learn how the staff treats your dog, and how your dog responds. If all goes well, you and Fido have got yourself a new dogtor!
If the visit doesn’t turn out as well as you had hoped, don’t worry. Refer back to our tips on how to find a good vet, and put them into action at another clinic. Even if it takes a little time, you will find the right vet that’s pawfect for you and your dog. And the next time Fido has a ruh-roh, is due for vaccinations, or needs his yearly check-up, you’ll be prepared.
Hounds Lounge is Here to Help
We wish you the best of luck in your search for a vet! If you’re located in Central or Northwest Arkansas, you can always visit your nearest Hounds Lounge location or give us a call for advice on how to find a vet. As a reminder, we give the vet clinics below two paws up, and we think you will too.
The better we know your woof, the better the vet recommendations we can provide – so go ahead and make Fido a Doggie Daycare reservation. It’s just what the dogtor ordered.