You have just had a new pet introduced to your home. That means it is time to find a vet to provide them with the care that they need and deserve. The biggest question, however, is where do you start? Our Seattle vet team is here to offer some insight on factors you may want to consider.
How do I find a vet for my pet?
You've just gotten a new companion animal, and they are already spreading joy throughout your home (or you may just need to find a new vet). There's lots to consider when it comes to finding an appropriate and qualified vet to provide the best possible medical care for your pet.
Luckily, our Seattle vets can share some valuable advice on how to find the right veterinarian for your pet.
Ask Fellow Pet Parents & The Pet Community
One of the best places to start is with the people that you know in your area. Who do they use for their veterinary needs? What qualities do they appreciate in or consider most important to good veterinary services? How did they know their current vet was the place for them? As your friends, groomer, family, or other pet parents you might meet in obedience classes or when you are out and about.
We all love our animal companions, so you will likely encounter a whole host of interesting and differing opinions about the most important factors in a good vet: potentially even aspects of the choice which hadn't occurred to you before.
Read Online Reviews
Time for some detective work. Google and social media can be your friends when it’s time to look for a new vet. What do the reviews on their website, social media channels or Google My Business profile say?
According to clients, are the vets attentive, punctual, knowledgeable, compassionate? Do they truly care about their patients? What about their office staff - are they polite and responsive?
While a practice may have one or two unhappy clients, consider it a red flag if you see consistent complaints that indicate a pattern of bad service, unprofessionalism, etc. Also look for replies to reviews - is the practice responsive to concerns, and are questions or concerns resolved in a timely manner?
An active presence online and on social media may indicate the vets and staff will be similarly responsive in person.
Visit the Facility
Key indicators to pay attention to outside and indoors include:
It is always good to make a note of the practical considerations. Convenience of parking, accessibility and how close it is to your home may all be top of mind. How easy is it to get to the office? How clean and well cared for is it? Is parking safe? What kind of neighborhood is it located in?
Make a point of visiting to get a sense of the facility at times where you would most likely be taking your pet there in the future. This is a helpful way of finding out about surprise factors like heavy traffic or scarce parking at a low stakes time.
You will most likely be spending plenty of time in the waiting room during your future veterinary appointments, so make a note of whether it is clean or comfortable. Is the environment relaxed and comfortable?
Make sure you ask the staff about wait times as well. A full waiting room can indicate a particularly busy day with veterinary emergencies, and not necessarily consistently long wait times.
A list of questions you may want to ask during your visit:
What are your hours?
How convenient are the office's hours for your schedule? Your pet will require vaccinations, preventative care and regularly scheduled exams, so it is key that you find a veterinary practice which has hours that fit well with your own.
At Northgate Veterinary Clinic, we offer Saturday hours for busy pet parents who can’t make it in for appointments during weekday business hours.
What equipment do you have onsite?
Does this veterinary practice have advanced or specialized equipment like diagnostic imaging technologies onsite? Or, will they have to refer you for those services?
Our Seattle facility is equipped with a full-service veterinary laboratory, which allows us to perform many tests, get quick results, provide a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Are tests or treatments outsourced?
What tests is this vet office able to offer on-site? What will have to be outsourced?
Which tests are available at the hospital or office, and which are outsourced to other facilities? At Northgate Veterinary Clinic, we run a variety of tests in our in-house lab, from ultrasounds to echocardiograms to fecal exams, parasite prevention and more.
Which services do you offer?
Your prospective vet offering comprehensive services will be very important as your beloved poet reaches their developmental milestones. From routine exams and vaccinations and preventive care to dentistry, surgery and internal medicine, our full-service veterinary hospital has all the services your pet will need as they grow from an infant all the way to their golden years.
You’ll also find convenient services such as cold laser therapy to keep your pet healthy and happy.
Our in-house pharmacy is conveniently stocked with a wide selection of medications and prescription diets too, meaning you’ll have quick access to any medications your pets may need while in our care.
Check Qualifications & Training
This is one of the ways in which choosing the right vet can be similar for shopping for other services. The big qu9estion here is whether or not the vet you're considering is licensed in the U.S. and in their state.
Do the staff (such as the registered veterinary technicians, hold licenses? Ask to see them, or contact your state's board of veterinary medicine for this info.
Assess Vet’s Communication Style
Your vet's bedside manner and style of communication also need to be a good fit for you and your pet. It is deeply important for you to develop a comfortable, honest, and communicative relationship with the people who will providing for your pet's medical needs. Professionalism, compassion and punctuality are all important to a good working relationship with your vet, whether you're taking your pet in for a surgical procedure or just for a routine exam.
How does your prospective vet charge you? When shopping around for vets based on price, make sure you keep in mind that one vet's price for a treatment may include post-operative care, painkillers or medications, while another vet's total might not include these necessities. Make sure you ask about the price for the entire procedure. Each animal hospital is unique, so each will have differing overhead costs.
Leaving Your Current Vet?
Many patients will leave a veterinary clinic because of perceived problems within service or communication issues. If this is the case for you, it is best that you write an email to your veterinarian and explain your experience and thought process. While this can feel a bit awkward to do, you will be able to start a dialog and either come to a resolution, or receive a referral from your current vet. Most veterinarians are happy to provide a referral elsewhere if things are not working well.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.