Choosing your Veterinary Care

It is good to have a primary care veterinary and a secondary option, in case your primary veterinary is not available during emergency situations, or you need a second opinion or in cases where your primary vet may not be available. 

You should also understand and do research on the best emergency care options in your area.  Sometimes the best emergency care options may be the closest university veterinary services as many of the veterinary colleges offer emergency care options. But most of all you want to be prepared. 

Have a plan prepared and laid out so you have a step-by-step plan of action for your pet.  Also keep a good wellness chart for your dog so all vets understand what things your dog is allergic to or things your dog has had a bad reaction to. 

  • Primary Care Veterinary – try to use a place where the same vet can see your dog each time so that vet gets to know your dog closely.
  • Secondary Care Veterinary – make sure you have a back-up option in case your regular primary veterinarian is unavailable, or you need a second opinion on an item.
  • Specialist – try to map out the local specialist such as dermatology, orthopedic, etc. Your primary may have suggestions also.
  • Emergency Veterinary – find the best place that is open during the off-hours of your normal veterinarian.  Always be prepared for emergencies and have a recognized plan of action in place, so you know what to do in case of an emergency. Check for your closest veterinary college to see if they offer veterinary care services and their hours opened. These are always a safe way to get knowledgeable care.

Starting your search

It is important to do research on your local veterinary options as well as your emergency care options. When meeting the veterinarian, it is important the veterinarian listens to you, since you spend so much time with your dog, sometimes the information you have can be critical in helping the vet understand your dog.  You want to also select a vet that is judicious in their treatment methods and especially the proper use of anti-biotics and other systemic drugs (see link below).  

Find a vet in your area websites that are useful.

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association – The Leader, the Voice, the Resource for integrative holistic veterinary medicine (

How to Choose a veterinarian – source Fetch by WebMD

A great veterinarian ensures better health for your pet and peace of mind for you. Use these tips to find one who’s knowledgeable, friendly, and committed to giving your furry, feathered, or scaly friends good care.

Don’t Wait

The worst time to look for a vet is when you really need one. Even before you get a pet, a veterinarian can help you decide which type is best for your family’s needs and lifestyle.

If you already have an animal but you’re moving to a new town or you’re not happy with your current vet, start exploring your options before your pet gets sick or has an accident. That gives you time to do a thorough search.

Ask Around

Do you have a friend who loves their pet as much as you do? Find out where they take them. A personal reference can be more reliable than review sites, especially if the pet owner’s standards are similar to your own.

If you have a purebred dog or cat or a nontraditional pet, consider checking with a local breeder or specialty group. Its members may have a strong relationship with a practice that will know your animal’s needs and any potential health problems.

Check Credentials

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accredits clinics that show that they have the highest standards of care. You can visit its website to find an accredited facility near you.

You can also visit the website of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners to find a certified vet, which means they have spent 2 to 4 extra years studying a specialized field.

Schedule a Visit

Once you’ve found a practice you like, request a meeting with a veterinarian there to discuss any questions you have. Write them down before you go. A few things to consider:

  • What are the office hours, and do they work with your schedule?
  • Can you reach the staff by email?
  • Does the facility offer after-hours emergency services? What about grooming and boarding?
  • Does the vet have a network of specialists that they can refer you to if necessary?
  • Do you feel comfortable bringing up your concerns with the vet?
  • How long does it usually take to make an appointment?
  • If there are multiple vets on staff, can you request a specific one?
  • Do they offer payment plans or accept Care Credit?
  • If you have pet insurance or are considering it, does the hospital accept your plan? 

Also, ask whether you can bring your pet to the meeting, so you can get a sense of how the vet interacts with them. And make a note of how long it takes you to get there and how easy it is to find parking.

Resource Links