Whether you’re a first-time dog person and you’re not sure where to start, or you’re a seasoned dog parent looking for a new animal veterinary clinic for your best friend, this guide to finding the perfect one will help you give your dog the care he or she deserves.

Identify Your Pet’s Needs in Advance
Before you begin visiting veterinary practices and asking questions, make a list of priorities for both you and your pet. Consider your dog’s age, breed, and any health concerns. Some other factors may include appointment hours to suit your work schedule, proximity to your home, and pricing.

How To Start – And Narrow Down – The Search
Once you’ve zeroed in on what you want from an animal veterinary clinic, it’s time to actually find a few candidates. Good old-fashioned word-of-mouth is the best place to start.

If you’re a dog lover, chances are you know other dog people whose pet-care philosophies are in line with your own, so ask a friend about their veterinarian. If you’re in a new place where you don’t know many people, research reviews on a site like Yelp or Angie’s List, where you can learn about other people’s experiences with veterinarians in your area and select a few who might meet your needs.

Schedule a Tour
Once you’ve found one or two potential vets, plan a facility visit without your dog to get a feel for the place. Any reputable animal veterinary clinic will be more than happy to show you around and make you feel welcome. Here’s a checklist of things to look for when visiting a veterinary facility.
Is it easy to get to from your home, and is parking relatively easy?
Is the facility clean, both in the lobby/waiting area and exam rooms?
Do animals and people in the waiting area and hospital seem comfortable?
Is the staff caring, calm, and courteous?

Your tour may be conducted by a staff associate or vet tech, but you should also be able to meet with at least one veterinarian on staff.

Ask The Right Questions
When you visit an animal veterinary clinic for the first time, in addition to getting a feel for the facility, you should ask plenty of questions to get a full picture of their practice. You may write down a few specific questions based on your list of priorities, and you should also ask the following questions.

Does the vet refer patients to specialists as needed?
Which emergency services are available on-site, and where will you be referred to if emergency appointments are not available?
Are diagnostic tests like X-rays, bloodwork, ultrasounds, etc. done in-house or referred offsite?
How are overnight patients monitored?
What types of payment does the practice accept?

Your in-person visit should leave you feeling positive about the clinic and staff, and hopefully, you’ll have a good rapport with the veterinarian.

Think of your relationship with the veterinarian as a collaboration – you both want what’s best for your dog, and by working together, you can meet all of his or her needs. We aren’t owned by a large and cold corporation – we’re your neighbors and are here to help. If you’re looking for an animal veterinary clinic you can trust with your furry family members, call today to schedule a visit.

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