Finding the right vet is important. Your vet will be your partner throughout your dog’s life and you want to make sure you trust them. You should take your dog in for a visit within a few days of bringing home your dog.
You should consider the following:
- AAHA accreditation: You should choose a vet that is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). You can use this link to find AAHA accredited locations near you. AAHA accredited locations undergo a comprehensive, on-site evaluation every three years that ensures they are practicing in accordance with AAHA guidelines. These guidelines require a high standard of excellence, and the organization provides accredited locations with ongoing education and guidance. In order to practice medicine at an accredited location, veterinarians are required to have at least 50 hours of continuing education each year and all support staff, including veterinary technicians and assistants, are required to stay current on new trends and practices in their areas of expertise.
- Treatment philosophies: You’ll want to make sure your vet’s treatment philosophies are aligned with yours. This ensures that their recommendations match your needs and won’t leave you scrambling to find a new vet if you have a medical emergency. Some topics to think through and discuss with your vet to make sure they share your beliefs: Do they believe in alternative medicine? What is their philosophy on supporting senior dogs? On treating cancer? On spaying and neutering dogs?
- Ongoing support: We recommend finding a vet that allows you to email or call with quick questions at no charge to determine if you need to come in. This saves you from having to make frequent appointments that are unnecessary and gives you peace of mind that you can contact a professional you trust at all times.
- Bedside manner: On your first visit with your dog, take special note of how the staff and vet treats your dog and how comfortable your dog is. Do they take extra steps to make your dog comfortable? Going to the vet makes many dogs very nervous so the treatment of the staff goes a long way.
- Fees: Veterinarian fees vary a lot. Ask about the structure of their fees so you find a vet that meets your budget. Ways to ask your vet about their fees: how much is a regular visit versus an emergency appointment fee? Do they provide payment plans if needed? Do they provide cost estimates for procedures beforehand like a spaying/neutering?
- Appointment wait times: You should get a sense of how long it usually takes to book an appointment. Can you book a week out? Do you need at least a month? Consistently long wait times will get in the way, but for the right vet you’ll likely be able to work around them. Make sure to get a sense for this as you’re choosing a vet, especially since puppies need to come in for vaccines at specific windows.