Choosing a veterinary hospital is one of the most important decisions new pet owners make. Pet owners and veterinarians have a special relationship that grows over time. A good, reliable vet is like another parent with your pet’s best interest at heart.
An unreliable or disreputable veterinarian, on the other hand, can be a disaster. You worry whether your pet is being poorly cared for and if you are paying too much for the privilege. Luckily, there is a way to avoid making the mistake of choosing the wrong vet. Seasoned pet owners know that there are a few key vet tips that will lead you in the right direction every time.
1. Do your research
The first, and perhaps most important, vet tip is to do your research. Start your search with all of the vet clinics in your area. Then start sleuthing. Thanks to the accessibility of the World Wide Web, there is a fount of information available on most vet clinics in major cities.
User reviews are a good place to begin. Type each vet clinic’s name into your favorite internet search engine followed by the name of your city and the word “reviews”. You are likely to find several websites, forums and blogs listing user reviews of the vet clinics you are interested in. And, if you’re lucky, you will find a city-based database that houses reviews of several vet clinics in the area.
Pay close attention to what the reviewers have to say. Does the clinic sound like a place you would like to go? Do the reviewers feel that they and their pets were treated with care? Are the prices high or low for the area?
Don’t get turned off by vet clinics that have few reviews. People are much more likely to go out of their way to post when they feel that they have been treated unfairly. Another good vet tip is to ignore the odd disgruntled customer. There’s one in every bunch. But do avoid vet clinics with a majority of bad comments no matter how low their prices or how close they are to your home.
2. Visit vet clinics` websites
Once your short list is free of the rotten apples, the next best vet tip is to visit the vet clinics’ websites. Not every clinic will have a website, or one that is very informative. Don’t cross these vet clinics off the list. Save them for the next vet tip.
Look on the websites that are available for any information that you can find. What amenities do they have? Do they have veterinarians that specialize in the type of pet that you have? What are their prices like?
3. Check boarding or an emergency clinic
Another great vet tip is to see if they have boarding or an emergency clinic. Eventually, you will go on vacation and need someone to look after your little one. It is always better if they can board at a familiar place with people that they know. Or, if your pet has an emergency, you will have added peace of mind knowing that your pet will be treated by someone who knows them and has their medical records on hand.
4. Make some calls
Once you know a little bit more about the vet clinics, it is time to make some calls. Contact each vet clinic in turn. Ask the receptionist any questions you have about the facility and if you and your dog can schedule a visit to go and check them out. This vet tip may sound imposing, but there is a good reason for it. Gauge the receptionist’s response to your question. Were they friendly and eager to help, or brusque and too busy to be bothered?
5. Do not cross off clinics with rude receptionist
You don’t have to cross a clinic off of your list because the receptionist was short, or unwilling to pencil you in (especially if it is close, inexpensive and suitable in other ways). But, this useful vet tip can give you early warning signs. If the clinic is too busy to devote the necessary attention to potential new business, they may be too busy to give your pet the attention they need once you’re a customer. Pet owners, barring a move or incident, rarely change clinics. Vet clinics know this. Inattentiveness and scheduling trouble are much more likely to get worse rather than better once you’re a customer.
6. Make your visit on weekend
Now that you’ve scheduled a visit, you must make it. This vet tip is by far the most time consuming, but also the most informative. Make your visit on a weekend. This is when the clinic is likely to be at its most busy and when you are most likely to make a visit.
Start evaluating even before you get there. How was the commute? Were their hours suitable to your weekend schedule? Once you’re there, keep your eyes peeled. What does their reception area look like? Is it clean? Do the customers look happy? Does it look like they have been waiting long? Ask to see the boarding and/or grooming facilities.
7. Ask questions
And don’t be afraid to ask questions. What are the veterinarian’s hours? The clinic may be open for eight hours a day, seven days a week, but it is unlikely that the veterinarians work all of those hours. This is especially true if there are only one or two veterinarians qualified to care for your type of pet. Following this simple vet tip will save you a lot of scheduling conflict in the future.
Once you’ve followed the vet tips and visited all of the clinics on the list, you may only be left with one viable option. If there is more than one left to choose from, the last vet tip you’ll need is to go with your gut. You’ve done the research. Weigh the pros and cons, but don’t think too hard. You’re well informed about the options. Any choice you make now will inevitably the best one for you and your pet.