Whether you are new to a town or have just gotten yourself a furry companion, the next thing you ought to do is to find your four-legged friend a credible Veterinarian – the second imperative person in its life. Who’s the first? You, of course!
We’d like to make your path to choosing the right holistic vet less daunting with some useful guidelines.
Get referrals from friends and family members. They know you personally and can give you feedback on their positive and negative experiences with their vet’s service. Understand things they like and dislike about the vet and the priorities they had when choosing a vet. Owners weigh attributes differently and the vet your friend recommends may only be deemed passable by you so it is always great to get a handful of different opinions. If you do not have any friends or relatives with pets to consult, try calling the humane society or local kennels and catteries for some advice.
Most of us use the internet these days, so finding a vet is really more of an internet search. Reading reviews on blogs and forums can also offer some recommendations and considerations. Review sites like www.yelp.com or www.angieslist.com can provide feedback for you. Remember that on the internet, people can make up stories, so you will want to do your own research also. You can also visit the national/state governing association for a list of qualified veterinarians and animal hospitals. A couple of resources include The American Animal Hospital Association (AAA) in US, InfoVet in Canada, and The Singapore Veterinary Association in Singapore.
So now you have a list of veterinarians and it is time to call up the clinics and schedule a visit. You are going without your pet this time round as the purpose of this visit is for you to obtain an overall assessment of the facilities, staff quality, and service. This is a reasonable request that the majority of clinics will be glad to oblige. Jot down your list of questions ahead of time so that you are well prepared. Veterinary clinics are busy places and you want to make the best use of everyone’s time. Some questions you might ask:
- Are appointments required?
- Number of vets on duty and in the practice?
- The types of accreditation(s) obtained by the vet(s)?
- Are there any technicians or other professional staff members?
- Does the vet possess any particular expertise or have special interests such as geriatrics or behaviour?
- Are X-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, EKG, endoscopy and other diagnostics performed in-house or referred to a specialist?
- The operating hours and types of emergency services available?
- How fees are charged?
- What is your regular vaccination schedule?
- What is your training in nutrition?
Step #4 During the Visit
Assess the accessibility of the location and convenience of parking. Examine the cleanliness of the facility, how the environment is organized, and how comfortable the setting is. Observe the number of staff on duty and their behaviour; are they friendly, caring, and competent? Check for certificates and accreditations that are displayed in the clinic. Also you may wish to take note of the other owners and patients waiting in the queue, do they look grumpy due to a long wait? Is the office big enough to keep dogs and cats separated? Is the office staff paying attention the stress levels of the animals in the waiting room? Some vet clinics even offer separate waiting rooms for dogs and cats.
Step #5 First Appointment
Sometimes you may get to meet the vet in person if he/she is available at the time of your first clinic visit, if not, you will get to meet the vet along with your furkid on your first appointment.
Bring along all health records so that your vet can acquire some medical background and conditions of your pet easily. It might be good to convey your expectations on the onset such as the way you expect your pet to be handled and treated.
It will be great to spot the vet handling your pet at ease with an upbeat spirit and confidence. The way the vet handles your pet communicates assurance and competencies. Observe how your pet behaves around the vet; is it generally comfortable or has displayed high discomfort level. Also, a patient vet will never attempt to shove patients out by speeding up the examination process during busy hours or less critical routine checkups.
If you have some questions, it might be good for you to list down and consult the vet rather than trying hard to pull out the questions on the spot. This is the time where you engage in a conversation with the vet. Evaluate your vet’s responses; does he/she take the time to explain in understandable terms and proactively offer some insights and advices based on experience?
At the end of the day, what you are seeking is the confidence that both your pet and your well-being is taken care of. If you are leaving the clinic feeling satisfied, reassured, and gleaming that the service is worthwhile for the penny paid, congrats; we think you might have just found the perfect one.
Written by: A. Tay