Finding the perfect vet is easy when you know what to look for. Follow these guidelines and make the perfect choice!
FIDO: Hey, Fluff, where’s your mom going?
FLUFFY: She wants to find me a new veterinarian, so she’s going to some “meet and greets”.
FIDO: What’s a “meet and greet”?
FLUFFY: Mom’s going to visit some hospitals and clinics so she can see the space and meet the vets. She says it’s really important to get a feel for the environment and the doctors before saying “I do”!
FIDO: Really? I would think a degree from a good veterinary school would be enough.
FLUFFY: You know what, Fido? That’s what a lot of people think, but credentials don’t tell the whole story. I think we’d better get Meryl to send out some info on this.
FIDO: Great idea, let’s go!
…And so they did. Here’s how to find the perfect vet for you and your baby.
Start with research. Ask friends and co-workers, go online and read reviews, check out veterinary websites. If possible, make sure that the vet’s clinic or hospital is AAHA accredited (American Animal Hospital Association). Although many excellent clinics or hospitals are not accredited, this accreditation does ensure a certain level of care.
We recommend: If you’re in the L.A. area and need emergency or after-hours care, we recommend Animal Specialty Group, 4641 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90039, (818) 244-7977. And for a wonderful experience during regular business hours, Santé D’Or uses and proudly recommends Dr. Lisa Hsuan and Dr. Alondra Pasallo at the Animal Health Care Center, 5211 El Verano Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90041, (323) 258-2122
Pay a visit. Once you’ve narrowed down the field to a few you want to meet, schedule a visit without your animal. Ask for a tour of the facility. If it’s a good hospital, they will be glad to show you around, and you should be able to see everything other than a procedure room that is in use and requires a sterile field and privacy.
Notice everything. Does the front desk staff greet you in a friendly way when you walk in? Are they relaxed, or do they seem stressed and anxious? As you go about your tour, pay attention to the details. Is the place clean? Does it smell fresh? A place that smells too much like animals isn’t being cleaned thoroughly. Is the staff attentive to both human and animal guests? Can you feel their love of animals?
Meet with a veterinarian and ask questions.
- What are the hours? You need to know that they will be there when you need them.
- Will you be able to see the same vet each time you visit? This matters a lot if it’s important to you to see the same doctor most of the time. In many hospitals, veterinarians share patient responsibilities and cover for each other when one is busy or on vacation. This is a common practice and it works well, because the practice can serve more animals by utilizing everyone on staff, but you need to be comfortable with it or it won’t work well for you.
- What medical equipment is onsite? A good clinic will be able to conduct at least preliminary diagnostics utilizing x-ray and ultrasound equipment, dental exams, in-house lab tests, etc.
- Do they provide 24-hour care, or will they have to send your pet to a different facility if an overnight stay is required?
- What specialties do they offer? Although not a deal breaker, life is a lot easier if you can find a practice that offers dentistry, eye care, senior care, and maybe some holistic approaches such as acupuncture or acupressure. And, of course, if you know your pet has any special needs, make sure that the practice offers those services.
- What kind of training does the support staff get? Vet techs are often the ones caring for your animal and even doing some of the behind the scenes procedures, so their credentials are as important as the doctors’.
Do you feel a rapport with the vet? The questions above are designed to give you more than just information. The conversation gives you an opportunity to see how the vet interacts with you. Does he seem to be enjoying himself? Does she answer your questions without patronizing you, in straightforward, understandable language? Do you feel a genuine concern for you and your animal? Will you be comfortable calling for updates if your pet needs a procedure or hospitalization?
Choosing a veterinarian is one of the most important decisions you will ever make for your pet. Taking the time to choose wisely from the start will go a long way toward a happy, healthy life for your best furry friend.
We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something, too! We’d love to hear from you, so please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at www.merylschwarz.com to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.