Whether you’re a new pet parent or have recently moved, finding the right veterinarian for your pet is an important part of their health and well-being. Regular vet visits help your pet stay healthy and live their best lives. For dogs and cats, that means annual wellness exams, dog vaccinations and cat vaccinations, dental exams, and clinic visits if your pet gets sick or injured.
Your veterinarian’s office may even be the place you take your pet for grooming or to board overnight while you travel. Outside of the bond you share with your animal, your relationship with your vet is one of the most important ones you’ll have as a pet parent.
Choosing a vet is an important decision to make for your pet, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Keep reading for tips on how to find a veterinary clinic near you that fits your needs.
How To Choose a Vet
When it comes to choosing a vet, some of the most basic items to keep in mind are nearness, cost, and services offered. A quick internet search can help you narrow down the list of veterinarians nearby. From there, call or visit their websites to find out what services they offer and whether they’re taking new clients.
Nearly all small animal veterinarians will see cats and dogs. But exotics and other pets may need a specialized veterinarian. For instance, birds should see an avian veterinarian, while snakes and other amphibians will need to see a herpetological vet. Pet-specific vet directories can help you narrow down your vet search.
If you know you’ll need a new vet in the future, start the search as early as possible.
Make a List
Create a list or spreadsheet to help you keep track of each vet choice. Take notes for each veterinarian on your list, tracking the pros and cons of each. Questions to consider include:
Are they taking new clients, or is there a wait list?
What is the driving distance from your house?
Do the business hours work for my schedule?
Do they accept walk-ins? How do they handle emergencies?
How much do routine services cost, such as basic preventative care like exams and vaccinations?
Do they charge exam room fees?
How much are dental cleanings or nail trims?
Finding out this information will help you narrow down the search to a vet clinic that meets all your basic needs.
Online Search and Reviews
Now that you have your list, there are a few other ways to help you make an informed decision. Reviews and ratings on websites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook can help to uncover helpful insights from pet parents who have been to a particular veterinary office.
Pay attention to vets with high ratings and take note of how their clients feel about them. Their experiences can give you a sense of what to expect and help you narrow down your options even further.
Ask a Friend
One of the most reliable sources of information when searching for a vet is your network of fellow pet parents. Ask friends, family, and neighbors for their opinions about their current vet. They’ll be able to give valuable recommendations based on their own experiences.
Ask what they like and don't like about the practice, as well as their overall satisfaction with the care their pets receive. Their firsthand knowledge can help you make an informed choice and find a vet you will like working with.
If you recently adopted your pet, reach out to their rescue or shelter and ask its employees if they have any veterinarian recommendations they can pass along.
Current Veterinarian Referral
If you’re moving to a new town or out of state, your current veterinarian may be able to help in your search to find a new vet. Veterinarians often have a big network and can tap into their connections to give you referrals. Your vet may know colleagues in your new area who can continue to give the same level of care you and your pet are used to.
When Should I Look for a Vet?
Finding a new vet may take some time, especially given the current shortage of vets and clinic staff combined with an increasing number of pets per household. As more people need veterinary appointments, patients must wait longer to be seen. If you know you’ll need a new vet in the future, start the search as early as possible to avoid getting waitlisted at the office you want to visit.
While you can’t always know when you might need to find a new vet, it is possible to plan ahead for these life events:
Moving: A cross-town move may not be enough reason to switch, but moving to a new city or state certainly is. Start searching for your next vet as soon as you know you’re moving.
Adopting a pet: Becoming a new pet parent is an exciting time. Aim to start a relationship with your pet’s new vet ASAP, as many vet clinics have a waiting list that you’ll want to get on immediately.
Time for a change: If you’re not happy with your current vet and want to find someone new, it’s best to get the process started early before an emergency or illness strikes.
Outside of the bond you share with your animal, your relationship with your vet is one of the most important ones you’ll have as a pet parent.
How To Find an Affordable Vet
It’s possible to find an affordable vet who gives quality care without breaking the bank. When searching for a new vet, be sure to ask about pricing transparency so you understand the costs of different services and treatments. Many clinics can give estimates of price ranges for routine services, tests, and diagnostics. This may help you avoid sticker shock later on when you’re charged for a service.
During any vet visit, it’s best to ask them about possible costs involved with your pet’s care up front. Thinking ahead and talking about pricing openly with your vet can help you make more informed decisions about your pet's healthcare while keeping affordability in mind.
If cost is an issue that stops you from getting veterinary care for your pet, check with your local Humane Society, ASPCA, shelter or clinic to see if veterinary assistance may be available. Both veterinary assistance and low- or no-cost veterinary care are available to help pet parents who are unable to afford the full cost of veterinary services.
How To Get a Vet Prescription Online
Ordering your pet’s prescription online is another convenient choice that can save you time and money. To get started, download the Chewy® app so you can check the price of medications, prescription food, and other over-the-counter products through the Chewy app.
Next, simply ask your vet if they can fill the prescription through Chewy. Once you place the order, the Chewy team will contact your vet to get the prescription approved and conveniently delivered right to your doorstep.
(Note: If your pet needs medication ASAP, you may not want to wait for the shipment to arrive—but this can be a good long-term option for refills, especially if your pet has a chronic condition.)
Why Finding a Vet You Love Is Worth the Effort
Finding the right vet is important to the well-being of your pet. Use online search tools, read reviews, ask your friends for referrals, and get the help of your current vet for recommendations. The process may take some time, but your research will help you feel more confident that you’ve found a trustworthy, compassionate veterinarian who will be there for you and your pet for many years to come.
Featured Image: Getty/FamVeld
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