How to Find a Veterinarian

by Katharine Hillestad, DVM on April 20, 2012

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Veterinarian Dr. Race Foster

Your new pet depends on you to take good care of him. Before you get your pet, find a veterinarian you can work with for years to come. Here are some guidelines that will help you find a veterinarian who will be a good fit for both you and your pet.

When you start your search for a veterinarian, ask friends, family, and co-workers where they take their pets, and why. Do they like the location? Is the veterinary staff friendly and do they seem knowledgeable? Does the doctor fully explain the diagnosis, treatment plan, and expected outcome of a disease? Are they comfortable asking the doctor questions?

Things to look for when visiting a veterinary clinic…

Veterinarian and staff: Are the staff knowledgeable and courteous? Can you request an appointment with a specific doctor at a multi-doctor practice? Do you feel comfortable with the receptionist, technician, and doctor?

Facilities: Is the facility clean and neat? Are there unpleasant odors? Are the grounds well kept? Is the veterinarian facility in a good location and easy for you to get to?

Office hours and emergencies: What are the regular office hours? How are emergencies handled during business hours? After hours and on holidays? How long does it take to get an appointment for a wellness exam versus a ‘sick pet’ appointment?

Services: What types of services are available? Medical exams? Surgery, including orthopedics? Dentistry? Radiology (x-rays)? Ultrasonography? Laboratory testing? Behavior counseling? Boarding? Grooming?

Fees and payment:
Do not make cost your determining factor when choosing a veterinarian. It is very difficult to compare costs for medical services because every veterinarian practices differently. Expect to pay a fair price for the services received. In a critical situation, cost is usually not your first concern, so choose quality care above all else. Along with cost, find out what methods of payment are accepted, when payment is due, and whether credit cards are accepted.

Good luck in your search to find a veterinarian that is just right for you and your pet!

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About the author: Dr. Katharine Hillestad received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois. She is a companion animal veterinarian and has a special interest in feline medicine, animal behavior and nutrition. Dr. Hillestad has been with Drs. Foster and Smith since 2001. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. See more articles by Dr. Katharine Hillestad.

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January 3, 2013 at 8:02 am

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Suz April 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

Perfect timing as we have been looking and think we have found the perfect dog to adopt. Thanks for the tips.

Jamie Dement (LadyJai) April 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

#PETS Would love the Pet Spa

krista B April 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

This is a great article.. and it takes some research on our end as we want the very best care for our Fur-babies!!! Thanks for all you guys to do put out great useful info..
(furminator) 3 cats and 4 dogs!!! thanks again you all are great!!!!!!!

LISA April 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I am entering to win a cat spa. I have 3 cats. This information is very helpful to help determine a good veterinarian. I have actually had to switch vets for my cats because I did not have this information available to me at first.

Bonnie April 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I love this article….I work for a Vet in the DC metro area and I think it is very important that people do not choose their Vet in just one visit! Of course if you have an awful visit and see something wrong that can make up your decision. I find that it takes me several visits to see if the Vet fits what I am looking for. Do they work well with your animal? Do they take the time to answer your questions? Do they seem genuinely interested in your animal? Do they listen to your concerns and address them? Is this a safe environment for my animal (yes, I have seen unsafe)? Do they have the capability to handl all your animals needs?

Finding a vet is not a quick visit situation. You need to take your time and find the right one….
GOOD LUCK

Roberta April 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I’ve taken my dogs to the same vet for years. He’s great. My dogs would love a Large Bristle Busy Buddy Bone #PETS

Bonnie April 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Oops I forgot to add that I like the POOPER Scooper “Clean Response Swivel Bin and Rake”

Thank you

Dmitriy Frumkin April 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Another good thing to do sometimes is check out reviews left by people on various websites (such as yelp)

#PETS
CatSpa would be cool! (or anything else :D )

Sherri O. April 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

#PETS (Entering to win the CatSpa). A good vet is essential. Having a good relationship with them, so they understand you and you undertand them is even more important.

Jill Butler April 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Find a vet that has some knowledge of your breed of dog. some dog breeds have special requirements like cannot handle anesthesia very well.
I would like the large bristle buddy bone

Jackie April 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm

We are so lucky to have found the best vet ever. She is so willing to go the extra step, explains situations to you and just an all around fantastic down to earth person. She even puts up with me and my 5 large dogs all coming in at once for their check-up and shots!
With all my large dogs, you can guess I would like the large bristle busy buddy bone.

JanD April 21, 2012 at 10:55 am

I love my Vet – Dr Jandron ~very personable ~great article~~~ entering to win Catspa ~ 5 dogs/ 2 cats

Tammie April 21, 2012 at 11:02 am

#PETS Large Bristle Busy Buddy Bone
I have a Guide Dog, so finding quality veterinary care is crittical for my black lab guide. The Vet I used for over 15 years recently retired, and I’m still looking for a Vet that is just as good as my previous Vet.

Ann Harvers April 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm

#PETS Large Bristle Busy Buddy Bone
I have a Spinone Italiano & he dearly loves his bones, lol! Its always hard to find a vet that truly understands when you have a rarer breed what their idiosyncrasies are & am blessed to have found one that seems to be the ticket, at least for the moment. Very good tips, I must say.

Michele Cranford April 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I do think this article just skims the surface of what you need to look for. Sometimes it takes a visit or two before you find that the Vet is or is not the one for you. Can you imagine that we have actually found a Vet that wasn’t an “animal person”?! Like the article, and am entering to win the Busy Buddy Bouncy Dog Bone for one of our 10 dogs at the Barking Dog Ranch! #PETS

Recycled Pets NorCal April 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Once youi find the perfect vet, make sure to really get to know them. Since I do rescue and I currently have 7 dogs in my house (4 fosters), we spend a lot of time at the vet. That relationship means I don’t get sold things I do not need and they take the time to explain everything to me fully. I don’t settle for quick comments.

I am entering to win Large Bristle Busy Buddy Bone

Kelly Ann T. April 22, 2012 at 8:29 pm

We are blessed to have the vet that we do. The dogs love him and he is so gentle. When we had a emergency he got us right in and took care of the issue. I like that I can call the exchange day or night if I need too.
I would like to win the Large Bristle Busy Buddy Bone for my dog Kouga. We are in the process of adopting another dog but right now we only have one dog. #PETS

Rosemary April 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I used to work for a vet, and we actually had one new client walk in the door, and tell me, with an astonished look on her face “It doesn’t smell in here”. She said the vet’s office she had used before always smelled, and she thought that was normal. Um, I mopped with bleach twice a day, as a matter of routine, and any “accidents” got cleaned up as they happened, so I would HOPE it didn’t smell bad in there.

#PETS would like the Furminator, please.

Andrea allen April 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

It’s very hard to find a good vet . I was very lucky to work with a bunch for 10yrs in an emergency clinic. We have 4 cats and two dogs, so we need it. The doggies would the busy buddy bones.

Carrie McGath April 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

Seeking a vet in the Chicago metro area … good advice in this post!

I am entering to win the CatSpa for my two cats … Hope we win! My cats would love it!

Sharon Piper April 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thank you for the info. I am trying to decide if I want to change vets because sometimes I feel like they are only there to make money. The office staff gives me different answers every time I call and it gets so confusing. I love the vet but I think he likes his farm animals more than the domestics, and its so hard to know who really is in for the right reasons until you see them a few times. I have 7 cats and I would love to win the Cat Spa for them.

Beth Feder April 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

#PETS am looking for a good vet for my cat in the DC area after having a couple of bad experiences. This article is helpful! Toby would love a CatSpa.

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