The best way to find a good veterinarian is to ask people who have the same approach to pet care as you. Start with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, animal shelter worker, dog trainer, groomer, boarding kennel employee or pet sitter.
Look in the Yellow Pages under “Veterinarians” and “Animal Hospitals,” where you can likely find important information about hours, services and staff. You can also search for veterinarians in your area online. Check for accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association. AAHA accreditation means that a veterinary hospital has voluntarily pursued and met AAHA’s standards in the areas of facility, equipment and quality care.
If you’re looking for a specialist, ask about board certification. This means the vet has studied an additional two to four years in the specialty area and passed a rigorous exam.
Once you’ve narrowed your search, schedule a visit to meet the staff, tour the facility and learn about the hospital’s philosophy and policies. This is a reasonable request that any veterinarian should be glad to oblige. Write down your questions ahead of time.
What to look for in a veterinary practice
- Is the facility clean, comfortable and well-organized?
- Are appointments required?
- How many veterinarians are in the practice?
- Are there technicians or other professional staff members?
- Are dog and cat cages in separate areas?
- Is the staff caring, calm, competent and courteous, and do they communicate effectively?
- Do the veterinarians have special interests such as geriatrics or behavior?
- Are X-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, EKG, endoscopy and other diagnostics done in-house or referred to a specialist?
- Which emergency services are available?
- Is location and parking convenient?
- Do fees fit your budget, and are discounts for senior citizens or multi-pet households available?