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How to Choose a Veterinarian for your Dog


The health care we provide our pets is important, whether as a preventative measure or during time of emergency.  One of the fundamental pillars of dog ownership is keeping our pets healthy, and doing so requires finding the best health care possible.  How to choose a veterinarian is described here.

Ask for Recommendations
The first step in understanding how to choose a veterinarian is to ask for recommendations.  Seek advice from other dog owners, employees at the local pet store, and animal rescues or shelters.  At the very least, these resources can tell you which veterinarians to avoid.

Check Accreditations
Next, check the accreditations of the veterinarians you are considering.  Look to see that their website carries the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) logo, which means the veterinarian has voluntarily chosen to hold him- or herself (as well as equipment and staff) to the highest standards.

If you are looking for care from a specialist for a particular issue, make sure the veterinarian is board certified.  In order to achieve this certification, the veterinarian must have studied an additional 2 – 4 years in the specific field and passed an extensive test.

Look for Animal and People Skills
When trying out different veterinarians (or if you have the chance to attend an open house), look for a person that has both a rapport with animals and humans.  In a time of crisis you will need to be able to make informed decisions and trust that you will understand all of the information you are provided.  If the veterinarian you are considering does not fit this bill, move on.

Tour the Facilities
If possible, ask for a tour of the veterinary clinic.  Is the waiting room neat and orderly?  Are dogs and cats kept in separate areas?  Are leash rules enforced, or is the waiting room chaotic?  Are examining rooms kept clean and free of excess dog hair and dirt?  Are diagnostic tests such as blood work and x-rays performed in-house, or are they required to be sent to neighboring facilities, costing you time and money?  Is the staff courteous and polite?  All of these considerations should be made before you choose a veterinarian.

Consider Location and Hours
Dogs have a tendency to require care during hours that are least convenient for their owners.  If you are having difficulties choosing between two veterinarians, consider location versus the hours in which they are open.  If the nearest option is open from 9 AM to 5 PM, but the veterinarian farther away has extended hours, choose the latter.

Emergency Services
Finally, what type of emergency services are provided?  Some veterinary clinics offer 24 hour service to all pet owners, while others only provide this treatment to existing clients.  Other veterinary clinics may have no emergency hours, but have a reciprocity agreement with a veterinarian who does.  Look for an option that best fits your needs, knowing that most pet owners make at least one emergency veterinary visit during a pet’s lifetime.


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Anna Weber

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