Choosing the right vet requires some work, but it’s worth it to find someone who you can trust with your pet’s health care.

Narrow the Choices

Start out by using a search engine to find vets in your area.  You can also ask friends, neighbors, and even local pet supply stores for recommendations.

Once you have a list of nearby vets, check out their websites to find out the basics.

Be sure the vet provides care you your type of pet.  Most vets handle dogs and cats, but fewer deal with birds, reptiles, rodents, or other more exotic animals.

If your pet has specific health problems, be sure the vet specializes in that type of care.

Be sure the vet’s hours work with your schedule.  For example, if your job makes it hard to get away during weekdays, look for a vet that has weekend or evening hours.

These simple checks can help you narrow the list of potential vets.

Check Credentials and Reviews

If the vet is associated with a veterinary clinic or hospital, check to website to be sure they are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Look up each at  Vets that have been reviewed will have a numeric rating (on a 1 to 5 scale), but more importantly, comments may help to eliminate vets, or at least give you questions to ask.

Look for the vet at the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners website (, or look for the ABVP designation on the vet’s own website.  This means that the vet did extra work to earn the ABVP certification – an important indicator of a commitment to ongoing training and education.

Visit the Clinics

After checking credentials, visit the vet clinics on your list.  Make an appointment so you can spend a few minutes talking with the vet.

  • Be sure the facilities are clean and well maintained.
  • If your pet is nervous or ill-behaved around other types of animals, look for separate waiting areas for cats and dogs.
  • Observe how the staff deals with other people and their pets.  The staff should be efficient, but also have good interaction with pets and owners!
  • Ask the vet about ongoing education.  A good vet should devote at least 2 weeks per year to updating their training.
  • Ask about after-hours care and overnight boarding.  If the clinic does not provide these services, ask about their relationship with facilities that do provide 24-hour care in case your pet needs it.
  • Also ask about specialists available, either within the clinic or on a referral basis.  A good vet understands that your pet may sometimes need specialized care.
  • Be sure that you are comfortable talking with the vet…  if your pet ever needs critical care, you’ll want a vet you trust.  And if the vet seems too rushed to answer your questions, this may not be a good choice.
  • Ask about fees to be sure the vet is within your budget.  Some vets offer special deals for families with multiple pets, or for senior owners.

Once you’ve chosen a vet, schedule an initial exam for your pet to get a health assessment and establish an ongoing health care plan.

Keep your vet’s phone number and the number of a 24-hour emergency clinic handy!



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