We often get asked for our opinion and advice on which veterinary clinic or surgeon to choose. Whether you've recently acquired a dog and don't know where to start, moved home and location and seeking a closer vet clinic or have had a negative experience and wish to try a different vet, the choices are vast in who to choose. It is recommended that you try to keep your dog at the same clinic as this ensures continuity of your dog's health history and it helps your dog become familiar with the environment of the clinic and get to know the vet and staff at said clinic.
To help we have listed things to consider when choosing a vet:
Although for most this isn't something overly thought about, the location can literally be a life or death decision. Although most have a vehicle and distance is no problem, if your dog were to be seriously ill then the closer the better. Also if a veterinary clinic do home visits you need to ensure you are in their catchment area if this is something you would prefer.
Vets are expensive, there is no getting away from that, almost and on occasion costing more than your own doctor, your budget will certainly dictate which veterinary clinic you decide to choose. There are low budget and high end vet clinics. As you would expect high end clinics will have all the latest gadgets and equipment to be thorough in your dog's health care for example CT Scanning equipment unlike a lower budget clinic who will probably not have such equipment. Despite knowing that a lower budget clinic doesn't have all the latest equipment it doesn't stop you or your vet referring you to another clinic if they are unable to help with a certain health ailment that requires more high tech support. How do you know what is considered a low budget or high budget clinic? An easy way to check this is to telephone a number of clinics and ask them for the price of the same service, for example a vaccination, prices will vary slightly and remember to ask what else maybe included, using the vaccination example, some clinics will do a full health check before the vaccine is administered others will just give the vaccine without a health check, which do you consider to be of more value is up to you.
This we consider is a big consideration, customer care is number one when it comes to dealing with pets. Many dogs find a trip to the vet somewhat traumatic and have high anxiety already by being in the car before they even get inside the clinic. With this in mind you want to know that your dog gets a warm welcome and that ALL staff are trained to deal and handle with dogs. The vet of course will be confident in handling your dog but you also need to ensure that Reception, cleaning and nurses are all doing their best to make your dog and you feel at ease, this will make for a much smoother visit. How can you test this one? Easy go and visit a couple of clinics (without your dog) and watch how the staff interact with the clientele both 2 legged and 4 legged.
Experience & Recommendations
This goes without saying that you want a competent vet to care for your dog. Things to consider are age, where did they qualify to become a vet, how many years have they been a vet and do they also have any veterinary specialties (which requires further training and commitment to being a vet) for example orthopedic or eye care.
Being recommended to a vet is a great way to be introduced to a new clinic, another person's experience of a clinic can speak volumes to you. Ask the person who has recommended a clinic why they like them so much and how long they have been using them. A good vet clinic will not only have an up to date website they will be socially active too, this shows that they are keen to stay connected with their clients and offer tips, advice and of course the all important special offers from time to time.
Emergency Care and After Hours Support
An important area to consider, having a clinic that works only 9-5 in our opinion is simply not good enough. Dog's have a habit of needing vet care outside of the usual office hours. So we strongly suggest you choose a clinic that has an emergency number to contact once the clinic is closed. Some clinics join up and provide a shared out of hours support service, so don't be too alarmed if this is the case. Before deciding call the clinic and ask what their opening hours are, are they open at weekends and if you work all day do they open late so you are able to visit with your dog if need be.
Do they speak your lingo?
There is nothing worse than making a call and then having to find a way to explain yourself when the person on the other end of the line doesn't understand you. Make sure the clinic has someone who speaks your first language, better still make sure the vet does to ensure you have peace of mind.
Whichever clinic you decide to go to remember you can always change your mind :)