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Choosing Your Veterinarian


cat_veterinarian.jpgFinding a Vet, or picking a new one, is a challenge animal owners undertake often. If you are new, or perhaps have moved to a new location, here are some ideas to make the process smoother. There are three parts to picking a new vet: the phone call, the first impression of the Veterinarian and staff, and the facility tour. Each of these is critical in making both you and your animal comfortable with those that will providing this essential care.

The Phone Call

Make a list of all the clinics in your area and give them a ring. The phone call gives you a chance to find out how busy they are, how their staff act, and if you want to move on to steps two and three. If you have moved, have a list on hand of conditions your cat has had and be prepared to ask questions about it. If you are a new pet owner, have a list on hand of common conditions for cats. The following questions are some you may want to consider while narrowing down your choices:

What type of animals do you treat? My cat has _______, (or I hear ______ is a common condition) do you have someone on staff that is qualified to treat and has experience with treating this type of problem?
How long have you been in practice?
How many doctors do you have on staff?
How long have they been practicing?
Are any of the vets specialists or do you work with other specialists?
How many technicians do you have and how long have they worked for you? How many years of experience does your longest working technician have?
What “In-House” services do you offer?
What is the average price for vaccines, x-rays, exams, etc.
What are your hours?
Can we tour your facility?

In general, if a hospital does not allow tours of their facility and does not give you a good reason, mark it out. Compare prices between vets, as well as hours, services and staff qualifications, then narrow your list down to two or three options that you’d like to visit. Make an appointment to see the facilities and speak to a doctor without your pet present.

The First Impressions

Arrive on time for your tour and interview with the vet. This step is important as this is your chance to see, without having to worry about your pet, how the staff treat you and their other patients. There are a few things to note when you first walk in.

What kind of greeting do you receive? Things should feel pleasant, organized and clean. The clinic should be bustling; even if there are not numerous clients in the hospital, staff should be at work making sure things are organized and prepared. Listen to how they speak to clients on the phone. Make note of how long you wait before being shown to a room.

Keep your eyes open for pictures, postcards and letters from happy, satisfied clients. Read through notes on bulletin boards and ask other clients waiting with you how long they have been using this office and if they are satisfied. Make note of any complaints they have.
Look at the literature laying around the office. This often shows the philosophy of the doctors and staff. Do they have any clinic mascots; animals that the clinic has adopted because owners didn’t want them or couldn’t treat them?

Observe the Vet when they enter the room, keep in mind that veterinarians are often not people persons, but animal persons. They should, however, be able to converse easily with you and explain how they feel about certain procedures. Have a list of questions ready to ask them so you don’t waste their time. Here are some samples.

How long have you been licensed and how long have you practiced in this hospital?
Do you teach new owners how to properly care for their pets?
What are your thoughts on vaccination?
What do you include in your annual exam?
Ask any questions you may have about certain diseases or conditions your cat may have or you worry may get.
Do you have any animals of your own?
Why did you choose veterinary medicine?
Do you do any volunteer work?
Do you offer discounts for bundled services or multiple pets. 

Tailor these questions to your specific needs and interests and then ask to tour the facilities.


Facilities Tour

The most important thing to look for during the tour of the facilities is cleanliness. Ask to see their boarding facilities and be sure to look for cleanliness, water and a bed for the animal to rest comfortably in. Ask questions! If something doesn’t make sense to you ask! Feel free to ask what state of the art equipment they have and what future upgrades they are planning to make. Note how many surgery tables they have and ask how busy they are. If there is an emergency and your pet requires surgery, you are going to want the reassurance that they will receive it ASAP. Take notice of and ask how they handle difficult animals. Ask to see their quarantine or ICU, and ask them what procedures they follow to ensure that diseases are not spread around the clinic.

Return home and compare your information. While it is unlikely that any one vet will offer absolutely everything, you will want to go with the vet that is the right fit for you and your animal.



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