Choosing the Right Veterinarian for Your Dog

Choosing the right vet can make a big difference on how both you and your dog feel about veterinarian care.

Veterinarian that Fits Your Dog’s Needs

Here are some tips to help you decide on which doggie doctor is right for you:

Choosing a vet is a lot like choosing a doctor for yourself.

You are going to want someone who is certified, and has the bedside manner that you prefer. A good way to start looking is to start asking around. Look for other pet owners and ask who they see and why (or who they would not see).

Social proof is also a very good indicator. Check out veterinarian practices on Facebook and Yelp and see what people are saying about them.

Remember that everyone is going to have opinions, so do not count everything as gospel truth when they tell you their stories.  But a vet that has a consistently bad reputation is probably one that you do not want to visit.

Next, plan to visit your possible vet.

You can do this in two ways – one you could call up or walk in and ask to see a tour of the clinic. Keep in mind that vet clinics are like hospitals and things will get crazy some of the time and it might not be possible to accommodate your request if you just walk in. However, the staff should be willing to show you around the facility. The office staff should be friendly and accommodating.

Once you think you have found the clinic you would like to use, you might want to consider a few additional points:

It is good to know how many vets they have on staff.

Having multiple vets will generally make it easier to get an appointment on short notice. It also might mean that you see a different vet each time you go, so you will want to be sure that you are comfortable with all of them.

You might want to know what sort of testing they are able to do onsite.

At least basic diagnostic testing should be available. If a vet sends lab work to another company for testing, inquire about the turnaround time. Ask if they do x-rays, surgery, and ultrasounds on site as well as blood work. If dogs are sent elsewhere for more complicated procedures, make sure you know where that clinic is and if it will suit your style as well.

Since you never know when an emergency will occur, it is helpful to know what your vet recommends after hours or in case of a real emergency.

Some vets will have an after hour call line or make house calls, while others will refer you to an emergency center. Depending on how you prefer emergencies to be handled may make or break your new vet.

It is also helpful to find a vet that shares your personal philosophies on pet care.

Ask about their feelings on euthanasia and/or breeding. Find out how they perform surgery. Ask opinions on spaying and neutering.

You will want someone who shares a similar philosophy to yours to make your relationship run smoother. You might also find out what kind of pets your vet owns, as this will give you an idea of your vet’s personality, as well.

Inquire about how the staff continues their education.

Clinics that are frequently attending seminars and workshops will not only be more up to date on medical advances, but are usually more open to trying alternative treatments as well.

Lastly, find out the vets protocols for daily business.

How far ahead do you have to call for an appointment? 

What do you do if you want to be seen same day? 

If an unforeseen emergency comes up, such as an emergency surgery, how does the vet handle billing?

With a little research, both you and your dog will find a vet that both of you can feel better about. And remember, nothing is set in stone. If you think you have found the perfect vet that later turns out not to be, you can always look for a new one.

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Alex AntoniazziAlex Antoniazzi

Hi, I’m professional dog trainer Alex Antoniazzi, ABCDT and the founder of BrightDog Academy. I have been training dogs (and their owners) for close to 10 years now, and educating people on the best way to care for their dog is something I really enjoy. Feel free to message me here or on my own site any time!

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36 Responses to Choosing the Right Veterinarian for Your Dog

  1. My husband has been thinking about getting a dog, and I wanted to find a good vet before we got one. You wrote in the article that you will want to make sure that the vet has the same philosophy and approach to raising a dog that you do. While all we need to do is find a vet that could give the puppy its vaccinations, talking with them about their perspective could help us know if we want to continue seeing them and allowing them to take care of our dog.

  2. Very insightful information, I would want a vet that makes my pet feel comfortable. I like the idea of checking on their personal philosophies to see if they match with mine. That way we would both be on the same page when it comes to my pet’s care. That’s definitely something that I’ll start to consider.

  3. My wife and I have been thinking about getting a dog for a while now, but we didn’t know how to choose the right one. It’s interesting that you say to see how man staff members the building has. It would be nice to know that you will be able to get any help that you will need.

  4. Not too long ago, I got my puppy. It’s important to me that he gets the proper medical care to keep him healthy. As we look for a vet, we will be sure to use these tips that you shared. I hadn’t thought about looking at what testing is available on site to ensure quick results.

  5. Kyle Winters says:

    I agree with the article, you always want to know how many vets that the clinic has on staff. After all, this could effect the amount of time that you have to wait for your pet to get help. If possible, you also want to look into the credentials and experience that the vets have had.

  6. Gloria Durst says:

    I like how you say that if you find a vet with a similar philosophy as yours the relationship will run smoother. It would make sense that if you are in accord with how you want your pet taken care of things would go better. My husband and I recently rescued a dog from the pound, so when we find a vet for him we’ll have to find one that shares most of our views.

  7. John says:

    I like how you point out that you’d want to find a vet with the right bedside manner. I’d imagine this would also be important to look at in the staff that works with the vet too. I’ve read that your pet is around the staff about 70% of the time, so their bedside manners might be just as important as the actual vet’s.

  8. I like that you mentioned to choose a vet that requires its staff to attend seminars and workshops to continue their education. That can show that they are dedicated to making sure that they know the best way to care for pets. My wife and I have been searching for a vet for our new puppy. We will definitely ask about this while we look.

  9. Amanda Drew says:

    It sounds like a good idea to get a tour of the vet clinic if the staff has time that day. I just got a baby pug, and he needs to get all of his puppy checkups and other medical things. Finding a good vet is on the top of my priority list. I just think that I’ll call ahead about getting that tour.

  10. Jane Ambrose says:

    My family and I recently adopted a puppy and we don’t have a lot of experience with picking a good veterinarian. Before reading this article I hadn’t thought about making sure we share similar pet care philosophies, but I can definitely see how this would make visits more agreeable for both parties. In my opinion, proper dog care is so important to their wellbeing! Thank you for the information.

  11. I like that you mentioned getting to know the staff when possible and also finding out how many are on hand. We are moving to a large metropolitan area and I want to know that I can get appointments easily. I will be sure to inquire about this when we visit.

  12. Braden Bills says:

    I just got a new dog, so I want to make sure that I have a vet to take them to just in case they need help. It makes sense that I would want to visit a vet before choosing them! That way I can get to know them and determine if I like their staff or not.

  13. Gloria Durst says:

    I like how you say to check a vet’s Facebook or Yelp reviews. Finding someone who is well liked by others would probably be really helpful. My sister is looking for a vet to help vaccinate her new puppy, so she’ll have to find someone who is well liked.

  14. It was a helpful tip to know, that if there are multiple vets on staff, it’ll be easier to make an appointment with short notice. We’re thinking of getting a puppy so that our kids can grow up with it. I’ve heard with puppies they get into things, so to be able to make an emergency appointment if needed will be super important.

  15. Gloria Durst says:

    I like how you say that you want to know how many vets are on staff for a specific clinic. It would make sense to find this out so that you know how quickly you can be seen. My sister recently adopted a german shepherd, so when she sees the vet for his vaccines she’ll have to find out how many veterinarians work at one clinic.

  16. Thank you for all this great information about choosing a veterinarian. One thing that really stood out to me is that you say to ask them about their feelings with euthanasia and breeding. It would be nice to hear their take on it.

  17. I like that you recommend considering how many licensed veterinarians they have on staff at any given time. It makes sense that this can be important when looking at which clinic to choose because you’d know what you can expect if the dog does get hurt and how quick he’d get healed. Thanks for the post; I’m considering getting a dog and I want to make sure he’d have sufficient health care for anything that might happen.

  18. Marcus Coons says:

    It really helped when you talked about how visiting a vet can help you see how they work and make sure they are willing to show you around. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to read online reviews before choosing the vet clinic that is more convenient for you. As I see it, taking the time to do a proper research and check with the BBB can help you find a reputable vet to trust with your animal.

  19. Gloria Durst says:

    I like how you say that you would want to find a vet that shares your pet philosophy. It would make sense to find someone who likes how you plan to raise your pet as well. My sister is looking for a vet for her cat, so she’ll have to find someone who shares her philosophy.

  20. I’m glad that you mentioned to see what the vet can recommend in terms of emergency calls, and see if it aligns with how you want emergencies to be handled. Honestly, i think this is a great idea. It makes sure that you can have a plan for the future. Not only that, but it’s good to know that different vets have different tactics for emergency cases. It shows that anyone can find a vet that is perfect for them and their needs.

  21. Thanks for talking about finding out what kind of procedures they do at an animal hospital or if they send pets somewhere else to have them done. My cat has feline leukemia, and I want her to be treated nearby. Making sure that her veterinarian performs procedures and not sends them away would help me choose which veterinarian to take my cat to.

  22. Ashley Turns says:

    Thank you so much for mentioning that you want to find out what your vet recommends in the event of an emergency after normal hours. I just bought myself a new puppy and I want to make sure I find the perfect vet who can take care of him no matter what. I’ll make sure that the dog care I choose either has an after hour line or can make house calls if there is an emergency that occurs.

  23. Thanks for the tips for choosing a good vet. We just moved, and I want to find the perfect doctor to take my little dog to. She gets nervous outside the house, so it’s important to find someone good! I’ll be sure to walk in to any potential vets we find, like you said.

  24. Brynne Jones says:

    I loved that you suggested visiting your potential vet. It was helpful that you included that their staff should be accommodating and friendly as they provide you with a tour of the clinic. My sister recently adopted a dog from her local animal shelter. I’ll be sure to tell her of these tips as she searches for an animal hospital to take her new pet to.

  25. Ken Hwan says:

    I think it’s a great idea to ask for a tour of the clinic so that you can get a good idea of how the clinic treats animals and maintains cleanliness. I’m getting my girlfriend a puppy for her birthday and will need to find a vet to make sure we get all of the necessary vaccinations. Your tips will be very helpful because it’ll be my first time owning a dog.

  26. Your recommendation to figure out how many vets are on staff at a clinic was insightful. I hadn’t considered checking this out before. My husband and I just moved into a new area, and we need to find a vet to take our dogs to, so we’ll be sure to check how many professionals they have staffed.

  27. Raisa Delima says:

    I love that you said that getting a good vet is like choosing a doctor for yourself. I will try using the same kinds of criteria to find a vet for my dog, Spud! I hope we can find one soon to get him his vaccinations.

  28. I like your suggestions to ask about after hours care. Our family dog, Alf always seems to need a vet after normal office hours. Thankfully our vet has an after hours line and can come in if it’s a true emergency.

  29. Ellie Davis says:

    I love that you pointed out that choosing a vet should be no different than finding your own doctor. It’s amazing to me how many people don’t seem to understand that. I look at my dogs like they’re my children, so I want to take care of them like that. I hope that more people will understand that in the future.

  30. Larry Weaver says:

    I like the idea to get to know the staff and see if they keep up to date with attending seminars and workshops. Having moved to a new area, I’m trying to find a new veterinarian to take care of my dog. Finding a vet that keeps up to date on medical advances and is open to alternative treatments is the type of vet I would like to find.

  31. gloria durst says:

    I agree that you would want to consider how many vets a clinic has on staff so that you could get a quicker appointment. Finding somewhere with a few good vets would also be good because you could trust them. My brother is looking for a vet clinic for the new Australian shepherd puppy he adopted, so he’ll have to see how many they have on staff.

  32. Thanks for sharing! I’ve recently found a cat on the street and in order to be sure of its health, I need a comprehensive checkup. It awesome how you mentioned about checking certifications and recommendations of the vet. Now I know what to pay attention to in order to choose a good vet for my pet.

  33. I like that the article recommends finding out how many vets the animal hospital has on staff. After all, this can really give you a good idea of the amount of pets they see on a daily basis. This could be favorable to you as it would show how much the community trusts that particular hospital.

  34. Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I just got a new puppy, but we aren’t sure how to find a good vet to take him to. I like that you suggest visiting the clinic to see the facility and meet the staff. This sounds like a great way to find a place we are comfortable with and has friendly doctors. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Alex, thanks for your comment about how you should look out for vets who are experienced and certified in their field. I like how you said that it would be helpful to go to the office and meet them yourself, or at least call in. My husband and I are looking into veterinaries in our new area to care for our black cat.

  36. Thanks for your comment about how you should make sure that there aren’t any cracks on your roof. I like how you said that you should make sure that there isn’t any debris in the gutters as well as you prepare for a new season. My husband and I need to get our roof reconstructed, and we are looking to hire experienced roofers.

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