Questions to Ask Before Finding a New
Getting a new pet, or your first pet, is an
exciting time. Getting to know your pet is one of the most enjoyable stages of
the process of raising a pet. Especially with cats, as their natural curiosity and
sudden feats of athleticism and energy are constant entertainment. Whether
you’re adopting an adult cat or bringing home a kitten, you’re going to want to
establish a relationship with a veterinarian.
Before you start to canvas your area for
available pet hospitals and start asking questions to determine if they’re a
fit, you first need to decide whether you want to choose a small practice or a
large practice. The answer to this question will help you qualify the pet
hospitals into a smaller groups. If you want your new kitten to see the same
vet each-and-every visit, you’re going to want to select a smaller practice.
With a big practice, you’re most likely going to see a handful of different
vets during your various visits as your your kitten grows into a cat.
Never had a pet and don’t know which to
pick? Think about your personal preference when you see your doctor. Do you
like to see the same doctor every time that knows your personally or do you
enjoy the technology and speed of a large clinic? You’ll likely want the same
for your pet.
Once you’ve decided, you’ll be able to
glean from the different pet hospitals websites whether or not they qualify as
a small practices or a large one. Also, quickly factor in location. Decide how
far you’re willing to travel in order to see the vet. Make a list of three or
four that are the right size and distance for you and prepare to ask them the
What is the average wait time for
If earlier you decided to go with a smaller
practice, you should expect the wait time to be a bit longer than if you went
with a larger practice. It’s always advisable to take your cat into the vet for
regular visits, which in those cases you’re be able to comfortably set those
appointments well in advance. But,
unfortunately, more than likely your cat will have something come up that
requires your vet’s attention. In those cases, it’s nice to have the peace of
mind that your pet will get in front of an experienced vet within a couple days
of calling for an appointment.
If your job makes it difficult to get away
during standard hours, a related question you might want to ask is how
difficult is it to obtain a weekend appointment. Some cat appointments will
take you no longer than 15 minutes, in which a quick lunch-hour appointment
will be doable. Others, however, can take close to an hour, which puts a strain
on a cat owner with a strict working schedule.
How far is the office from your Home?
How far are you willing to go? Many people will drive an hour or more to see
a specific vet, but the majority of people want a veterinarian to be nearby,
especially in the case of an emergency.
Did you know that the majority of dog
owners will find a vet within 5 miles of their home? In fact, many people choose
a vet solely on the basis of proximity to their home.
How much do they charge?
This is tricky and often a delicate topic,
but it is important to you if finances are a priority.
You should also feel comfortable with the
fee schedule. Is it reasonable or do you
feel the veterinarian is more interested in money than your dog.
When your dog will need a surgery or other
procedure, it is worthwhile to ask for an itemized quote of charges so you can
be prepared. If you are given a set fee,
be sure that it covers everything.
What is your AAHA accreditation?
The American Animal Hospital Association
has standards of excellence, such as separate areas for quarantine, that offer an
additional level of trust. Learn about a potential vet’s level of accreditation
to decide if it meets your standards.
What about emergency and referral services?
If the worst happens, you need access to
life-saving care. Practices often partner with other veterinary clinics to
offer rotating 24-hour emergency services.
Do you have separate waiting areas for dogs
and cats (or other critters)?
That can ease the stress level of your pet,
and it might be a very important consideration for some owners.
Are they familiar with your particular
It doesn’t mean that you won’t let them
take care of your dog if they aren’t familiar with the breed; however, it does
help to know if they’ve worked with other dogs of the same breed. Many pet
owners actually look for this in a veterinarian. It’ll give you a lot of
comfort in a way that your vet may have already encountered problems with the
breed and may be able to anticipate issues or handle issues swiftly if they do
come about. You can ask this question, but don’t hold it against your potential
vet if they say no. It might be an opportunity for them to get to know your dog
better, and in return, be able to provide better care for your pet.
How long have they been in practice?
The length of a veterinarian’s practice
doesn’t necessarily reflect expertise, but in majority of cases, it just might.
New practices will have many other things to get around to in order to get
established, and in some ways, it might compromise the quality of care provided
to your dog. Practices that have already been established for a long time are
used to the back work required in running a clinic, and can therefore focus
more on the animals themselves. Finding a practice that has been around for at
least a couple of years should be fine, unless you’re confident and willing to
work with a completely new veterinarian. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with
supporting a new clinic, as long as you check credentials and make sure
everything else is legit.
Do they specialize in large or small
Specialization is quite important. You
might not want to take your dog to a clinic that only specializes in smaller
reptiles or the like. A good veterinarian will refer you to another vet that
can handle your dog’s issues if they can’t, but that’s not always a guarantee.
Most of the time, you’re better off finding a vet on your own that typically
works with the type of animal you have. This will eliminate issues later on
when your dog gets sick and you can’t figure out what’s wrong with him or her.
Time is always sensitive matter when dealing with any type of dog sickness, so
it’s imperative to have a veterinarian that’s used to the type of animal you
How many doctors are in the practice?
It is important to not only know how many
Veterinarians are in the practice, but also who they are. There may be times
when your Veterinarian is out of the office and you will need to see another
Veterinarian within the practice.
In addition to knowing who the other staff
Veterinarians in the practice are, it is a good idea to inquire about any
services they may or may not perform and if they see emergency cases when your
Veterinarian is out of the office.
What are your payment options/package
It’s good to know if your Veterinarian’s
office offers any type of payment plans or if payment is due up front. This can
help you to prepare for unexpected Vet bills.
And while most practices require payment at
the time of service, many practices offer puppy and/or senior packages. Puppies
require frequent veterinary care, which leads to higher than normal veterinary
bills. To offset this expense, many practices offer puppy packages, which give
you discounts on exams during your puppies vaccination series and/or bundled
As for our “young at heart” senior dogs,
many practices will offer discounts on certain days for senior dogs or offer a
senior package that mimics the puppy discount package with discounts on annual
exams and testing. It’s just as important for your senior dog to have routine
blood work tests as it is for a young dog.