©istockphoto/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Choosing a Vet for Your Dog

If the old tummy starts hurting, you don’t just run to the nearest doctor do you? No, you go to one you’ve settled on and trust. Well, when your pet needs health care, you should take the same care in choosing who your pup sees.

Location, Location, Location
Not that you should just pick the closest veterinarian clinic to your home, but that is a good place to start. If your pet is sick or injured, you are going to want to get there as quick as possible. There are very few things as gut-wrenching as the wails and cries of a scared and sick dog. Try to find at least the closest vet that is acceptable to you and your dog.

Referrals Are Best
Whenever we’ve moved to a new neighborhood, we always ask the neighbors what vet clinic they patronize. Referrals are best for any service you hire, and the Internet is full of referral services, but if your neighbors have had good experiences from a certain vet, give them a try first. Of course keep in mind everyone has their own criteria: some may prefer the cheapest, some the closest and others may go on personalities, but if you take all this into account, a good decision can be made.

Busiest is Not Always Best
If a clinic is always empty, just like a local restaurant, it makes you wonder why. Conversely, if it’s always packed, that could lead to problems as well. While you would expect a good, competent vet to have quite a bit of business, you do want to be able to make an appointment when needed. I had to drop a certain doctor of my own once because I could never get in within 2-3 weeks to see him. This is especially troublesome when the issue is an illness or injury. It’s fine to have to schedule exams or shots weeks in advance, and sure they will squeeze you in for emergencies, but some issues are pressing and need to be addressed quickly.

Price Does Matter
While I—and I’m sure you as well—would pay just about anything to keep our pets safe and healthy, there are limits. The first vet we used in our new neighborhood, while very nice and competent, charged ridiculous prices and lost our business. Their prices for routine shots were almost 50 percent higher than the other local vet’s and they charged us exam fees every time we came in, whether an exam was needed or not. Once again, the referrals from the neighbors straightened us out on this, but a few phone calls to other vets will tell you who is charging what.

Who Does Your Pet Like
I never liked doctors that gave me shots when I was a kid, and your pup sure doesn’t either. Just one visit to a vet will show you if the doc really loves animals. Certain vets just seem to love their work and have a soothing manner with their patients. I once frequented a vet who absolutely loved German Shepherds and it showed every time I brought my Shepherd in for an appointment. If you can see the difference, you know your dog definitely can.

Take it all into Account
If you get lucky like we did, the closest vet is the cheapest and has a special way with your pets. That’s not always the case, but there are ways to cover all your and your pet’s bases. Since we started with a different vet who we dropped due to their prices, there is at least one other nearby clinic that has record and knowledge of our pets. If there were a problem getting into one, we always have a backup. There are also emergency clinics nearby that may not offer the best prices, but may come in handy in case of accidents. Become aware of where the nearest emergency or urgent care clinic is just in case. I had one pet that only got sick or hurt on Sundays which made her quite an expensive family member. Since that time we always know where the nearest 24-hour vet is, just in case.