When Should I Find a Veterinarian?

by Hannah Roundy

Start your search for a veterinarian early. It’s best to find a vet before you welcome a new dog into your home.

Finding the perfect veterinarian can be like kissing a bunch of the wrong frogs. But there are a few easy ways to find a vet that is the perfect fit for your pup. 

If you are planning on adopting a puppy, they will require a veterinarian for routine checkups, yearly vaccines, spaying and neutering. Older dogs benefit from twice-yearly wellness check-ups so having a trustworthy vet on your side is a good move. 

It is important to find a veterinarian as soon as you can. This will help build a great relationship with your veterinarian when your pup is healthy, so if the need arises for them in an urgent situation, they are already familiar with your pup. 

Dogs can become injured or sick before you’ve found a good vet. It’s better to be prepared – it’s much more stressful to find a veterinarian in an emergency. 

How to Find a Good Vet

You’re ready to start your search but you’re unsure how to find a good vet. One size does not fit all when it comes to your dog’s health. Each vet might have different treatment methods, specialties, and patient requirements.

One consideration for how to find a good vet is your dog’s individual health needs. Some dogs are predisposed to issues based on their breed (such as pugs and bulldogs being predisposed to respiratory issues from their brachycephalic conformation). 

Most veterinarians treat all breeds, but some veterinarians may be more familiar with your pup’s needs. You may also adopt a dog with special needs that requires the help of a specialty vet.

Utilize your community to find a good vet for your pup. Ask your friends and family members that are dog parents if they recommend a good vet. 

You can also easily see helpful information and reviews on local veterinarians online. Advice on how to find a good vet can also come from groomers, shelters, breeders, and dog trainers.

What Questions Should I Ask a New Vet?

Gather a few options for a new veterinarian after doing some research. Many vets offer a free tour of their facility and may be available to answer your questions. 

Here are a few topics to discuss with a potential new veterinarian:

  • Office hours & appointment booking
  • Accepted payment methods
  • Fees for services like vaccinations, x-rays, bloodwork, etc. 
  • Emergency care
  • Professional affiliations (American Veterinary Medical Association, licensed by your state, etc.)
  • Referrals for specialty care
  • Pet insurance coverage
  • Expectations for patients

Speaking with the vet about your dog’s health history is crucial. A potential vet wants to know these details to ensure they can properly care for your pup. At the bare minimum, share your dog’s age, breed, and general health conditions. It’s helpful to send any records ahead of time to give the office time to review the records. 

How to Choose a Vet

After you’ve done your research, you should have all the resources you need to choose a vet. Trust your instincts and pick the vet you feel most comfortable with. The good news is that if you feel your vet is not the right choice for you, there are plenty of others to choose from.

Consider the following questions if you’re struggling with how to choose a vet:

  • Do I feel comfortable with this vet treating my dog? 
  • Is the office visibly clean and sanitized?
  • If my dog needs emergency treatment after hours, do they have an emergency vet they utilize?
  • Do the rates for treatment fit in my budget?
  • Is the office staff helpful and kind?

For those who are switching veterinarians, it’s easy to provide your new vet with your dog’s health history. You can request your dog’s health records from your former vet office. These records can usually be sent straight to your new vet’s office or they will send it directly to you. 

Helpful Tips for Visiting the Vet

Openly Discuss Treatment Options
Taking your dog to the vet may be a stressful experience – especially if your pup is in pain and you’re unsure of the best way to help them. In many cases, there are multiple routes of treatment available. 

A good veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you rather than direct what you need to do. Open a dialogue with your vet by asking questions. Don’t be afraid to say no to something if you don’t think it’s best for your dog. 

Pet Insurance
If you worry about treatment costs for your dog, consider investing in pet insurance. It’s much more affordable than traditional insurance for your home or car – ranging from about $20-50 a month. 

Many pet insurance providers will let you choose the type of coverage your dog needs. You can pay for accident-only insurance, accident and illness insurance, and additional wellness coverage for things like annual exams, fecal testing and teeth cleanings. Be sure to check that your veterinarian accepts your insurance before you go in for services. 

Get Clear Pricing Estimates
Most veterinarians will provide an estimate before providing care. Do not hesitate to ask them for a written estimate. Your vet should be happy to provide you with this as it means you are both on the same page and there will be no surprises. 

Don’t commit to any treatment without discussing the cost and logistics with your vet! If expensive treatment is unavoidable, some vets may have financing options to make that care accessible for your dog.

Get A Second Opinion (If Necessary)
Medical advice from your veterinarian can seem overwhelming at times. Each vet has a different opinion about treatment based on their experiences so you might feel conflicted about what to do for your pup. 

If you are unsure about your veterinarian’s advice, consider seeking a second opinion. Researching online or seeking advice from non-veterinarians is often not in your dog’s best interest. Seek out a second opinion from other vets and animal professionals. 

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