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Choosing a veterinarian that is right for you and your dog is not always easy. You want to find a veterinarian with whom you and your dog can feel comfortable and can build a trusting relationship. And you want to find that veterinarian before you get a dog - the veterinarian may be able to help you select a pet that will fit your expectations and lifestyle. If you have moved, or for some other reason need to change veterinarians, find a new veterinarian before your dog becomes ill.
Types of veterinary practices
Different types of veterinary practices exist. Those that provide care to companion animals include the following:
The veterinarians that limit the species of patients to which they provide care, such as 'dog-only,' are able to devote more time to learning about that particular species. This allows for more in-depth knowledge of disease processes in that species. In many multi-doctor practices, the doctors have individual interests which they pursue. They are available to consult with other doctors in the clinic on those subjects.
Where to find a veterinarian...
Ask friends, family, and co-workers that have pets:
Breed or training clubs: If you have a certain breed of dog, breed clubs may be a good source of information when looking for a veterinarian. This is very helpful if you have plans to breed your pet, since a knowledgeable veterinarian is a great asset. If you go to dog training classes, ask the instructors and other participants where they go and why.
Local directories: The yellow pages or business pages of a phone book normally will provide information on local veterinarians' names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Things to look for when visiting a veterinary clinic...
Office hours and emergencies:
Veterinarian and staff:
Fees and payment:
Do not make cost your determining factor when choosing a veterinarian. It is very difficult to compare costs for medical services because every veterinarian practices differently. Expect to pay a fair price for the services received. In a critical situation, cost is usually not your first concern, so choose quality care above all else. Your pet is more than a financial investment. Along with cost, find out:
As part of your search, pay a visit to the facilities you are interested in and have a tour. Make appointments to meet the veterinarians. If your dog has ongoing medical or behavioral problems, find out if the veterinarian is comfortable in treating those problems.
Hopefully, your dog will have a healthy life and never need a specialist, but if a specialist is needed, they are available. Some veterinarians will have a special interest in certain areas of medicine or surgery and specialize in it. If they are board-certified, it means that they have studied and have passed board-certification exams in that specialty.
The following is a partial list of specialties that have board-certification:
If a referral to a specialist is recommended by your veterinarian or you would like a second opinion from a specialist, ask your veterinarian to tell you who in your region is board-certified in the necessary specialty. A listing of the various veterinary boards are included in our Directory Section under Specialty Boards.
The relationship between you, your dog, and your veterinarian will hopefully last many years, so take time to find the right 'fit.' Since you will need to be able to discuss your pet's symptoms, test results, and treatment options with your veterinarian, good communication is of utmost importance. Find a clinic with veterinarians who you feel comfortable with and have good 'bedside manners.' Once you have found that veterinarian, we strongly recommend regular veterinary visits, or at the very least, annual physical exams.
We very recently just had to take our ferret Belle in for spaying in order to break her heat. They were amazing with her. Not only did they fix her problem, but they saved her life. Our family is forever grateful. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.