What Makes A Good Vet?

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Vet jacketIt’s important to find service professionals in your life you like and can trust. There’s nothing worse than having an appointment with a doctor or meeting with your lawyer and they don’t remember you or any of the information you’ve provided them with in the past. Similarly, you want an empathetic vet you trust and get along with because they are ultimately responsible for taking care of your furry friend in good times and in bad. But what attributes make up a good vet exactly? Read on to learn how to find a good vet and what to look for when seeking high-quality veterinary care.

How To Find A Good Vet

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there were a total of 105,000 U.S. veterinarians in 2015. With so many to choose from, how do you “vet” the best vets and go about finding the best fit for you and your precious pet? Here are some tips for how to find a good vet.

Ask For Recommendations

Neighbors are a great resource for finding a vet since they most likely have ones that are in the same geographic area as you. While you’re out on a walk or if you notice another pet owner with their pup, ask if they have any worthwhile experiences to share and a vet’s office to whom they would recommend. Join Nextdoor (a social network for neighborhoods) and post a question or search the existing forums for ideas.

Fellow pup owning friends in your town, at your church or in a local organization you belong to are great resources as well. You might even use Facebook to search for “vet” or “veterinarian” and then narrow down the results by geographic location. The great perk of using social media for this search is that you can filter content to just your friends and see if they checked in or shared any posts about their pet doc experiences.

Finally, you might try calling a nearby animal shelter or ASPCA to see if they can recommend someone.

Read Reviews

A few obvious places to look are Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook for people’s ratings and personal experiences. But other sites like the Better Business Bureau and your city’s chamber of commerce are other good sources for service provider reviews. Make sure you read both positive and negative feedback as people often take the time to leave their two cents if they’ve had a bad experience, but not so much when they’ve had a good one. Look for trends of similar positive or negative things said about any particular practice. We also have reviews of the leading online vet services.

Look For Accreditations

Having a board certification is a bonus because it requires a vet to pass an additional exam and two to four years of study in a specialty area. Another thing to find out is if the clinic is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) which is a voluntary stamp of approval that signifies the office meets and maintain a high standard of equipment, facility and quality of care.

American Animal Hospital Association (Video)

In this four-minute video, Dr. Katy Nelson from The Pet Show talks to AAHA about what you should look for in a veterinarian. Dr. Nelson also covers the details on AAHA accreditation and why it matters.

As mentioned in the video, you can use the AAHA website to locate your nearest accredited animal hospital.

It’s also good to know if your pet’s doctor is involved with any outside volunteer or charitable organizations. If so, this demonstrates they have a vested interest in giving back and helping others (including your pup).

Make An Appointment

Once you narrow down your list to a few favorites, ask to schedule a consultation which gives your pet a chance to sniff them out (literally) and to see if there’s a nice connection between your dog or cat and the vet. Depending on their office environment and the people there, your pet might have a better experience at one place over another. Since your pup or kitty can’t tell you their thoughts, pay attention to symptoms like anxiety, barking and take note if they establish a good rapport with the office staff. It also gives you a chance to ask questions about their policies, pricing and philosophies. This can give you a better perspective and provide extra peace of mind when it comes to making a decision.

What Makes A Good Vet: Other Things To Consider

Here are some additional characteristics and qualities to look for when finding a good vet.

  • Quality of Facility: Is the office sanitary, comfortable and accommodating?
  • Characteristics of Vet & Staff: Are they professional, helpful and knowledgeable? Are they caring, nurturing and calm with you and your pet?
  • Location: How easy is the vet to get to from your home or office? Is parking a problem and/or is it accessible by public transit?
  • Convenience: Do they provide any added value options like house visits or follow-up calls?
  • Accessibility: Do you need an appointment for urgent or last minute needs? What are the office hours? Do they have emergency vet hours?
  • Personalization: How many vets are there? If there are multiple, will you always see the same one?
  • Communication: How often and what methods do they use to let you know about appointment and vaccination reminders? Are they good about explaining things and answering your questions?
  • Experience: How long has the hospital been around and practicing veterinary medicine?

Of course, pricing is a huge factor too, but luckily, if you have a pet insurance plan, then your plan will reimburse you for some (if not all) of any emergency or illness related costs depending, on your plan and the treatment or procedure.

Learn More About Pet Insurance

When It Comes To Finding A Good Vet, Don’t Risk It

Your dog’s health is too important to compromise when it comes to finding a good veterinarian. This is crucial because you share valuable information with them. But, perhaps more importantly, because they are responsible for taking care of your best friend. Finding a good vet might take a little more time up front, but it’s well worth it in the long run (and will keep your dog’s tail wagging for years to come).

If you’re on the hunt for a vet and have a question that isn’t life-threatening, consider trying out this online vet service for your pet-related question.

Have any tips or experience on how to find a vet?

About The Author:

Sadie graduated from the Moody School of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors in Advertising and minor in Business. Her love of pets started from an early age with her childhood cocker spaniel, Peanut, and two cats. She is currently dog mom to Lexie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

As a professional dog sitter for more than a decade, Sadie has cared for dozens of canines of various breeds, sizes and temperaments. The responsibility of caring for others' pets has helped her understand the importance of giving animals a loving home. She has experience potty and house training as well as teaching dogs tricks such as sit and shake. Sadie is passionate about canine well-being so she feeds her pup all-natural meals and no table scraps.

Sadie and her husband live in Washington DC and enjoy walking Lexie to nearby dog parks or patios and taking her canine companion on trips. Having an adventurous, long-haired Blenheim means frequent baths and home grooming to maintain a clean coat. A small dog also requires more frequent dental care and Sadie is proactive with Lexie's oral hygiene.

She has been covering dog-related topics since 2012 and is proud to share her latest personal experience, resources and information with fellow pet parents. Her expertise has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest, Apartment Therapy, and other regional news organizations.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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Alicia Byrne
June 8, 2020 11:45 pm

I think you made a good point about finding a vet that is accreditated. My daughter is interested in becoming a vet and I was telling her that she should get some experience working as a temporary staff in a local vet before she starts her study. I would definitely support her decisions and look for a good school that she can go to have her accreditation.

Zoe Campos
June 7, 2020 9:46 pm

It’s interesting to know from this article that an aspiring veterinarian still needs to take an additional exam study for another four years for their specialized area. My sister had always wanted to look after animals and it didn’t come to us a surprise when she told us that she wants to pursue veterinary. I hope she’ll be able to find some good internship opportunities when the time comes and I know she’ll do her best.

Victoria Addington
February 19, 2020 2:45 pm

I recently adopted a dog that is set to euthanize last week, because the place is already full and they have no choice but to do the procedure. Good thing is, I was able to extend Toby’s life. Now, I’m looking for a vet clinic to have him checked. Thanks for your tip on asking for recommendations and reading reviews before visiting the clinic to ensure that the one handling my pet is a professional.

Sophia Slate
December 5, 2019 1:45 am

Thank you for stating that you should hire a veterinarian that is good about explaining things and answering your questions. I recently bought my first dog, and need to find a suitable vet that will take the best care of her, but I have no idea what to look for and how to choose the right one. I will definitely utilize all of your great tips and information when looking for the perfect veterinarian who can offer great care to my dog and fulfill all of her needs.

Kate Hansen
November 18, 2019 3:06 pm

I like how you suggested that you could ask your neighbors for recommendations! My sister and her husband recently got a golden retriever for their family and they need to find a vet so she can get her immunizations. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to them so they can know how to search for a vet!

Olivia Pearson
November 13, 2018 1:10 pm

I appreciate your tip about how when choosing a veterinarian, it’s important to consider the quality of the facility, checking whether or not the office is comfortable and accommodating. I think this is important because a quality facility is a sign that the veterinarians will likely provide quality care for your pets. My family just moved into a new neighborhood and we’re noticing our pup has a limp in his back leg. We’ll have to find a veterinarian in our area that has a clean, high quality office, so we can be sure our little dog is getting the medical care he needs to heal as soon as possible.

Katie Wilson
October 23, 2018 10:46 pm

I agree that you want to make sure that a vet is accessible. It would make sense to find someone who is qualified and experienced in order to know your pet will be in good hands. My husband and I are looking for a vet to help neuter our cat, so we’ll have to consider how easy it is to get to their office.

Amy Winters
October 1, 2018 2:03 pm

Thanks for pointing out that if we see neighbors walking their dogs, we can ask them about their experiences with local vets. My husband and I just moved to a new area, and we’ve been trying to find a reputable veterinarian to take care of our two dogs. We don’t know anyone in the area to ask, so it’s a great idea to ask people we see walking their dogs.

Duncan Lance
September 5, 2018 9:22 pm

When choosing a vet it can definitely help to ask for recommendations. After all, you will want to make sure you are choosing one you can trust. If a family member or friend can recommend one that they trust then it is a good place to at least start.

Mark Murphy
August 15, 2018 11:19 am

I totally agree that your pet should see the same specialist at every visit if a clinic has multiple specialists. My wife and I recently bought our daughter a dog, and our dog is very shy around new people. I would really like it if our dog was able to get used to one specialist everytime we visited the vet!

August 10, 2018 12:12 pm

I am glad you said that it’s important to find service professionals in your life you like and can trust. My dog needs surgery and I have been looking for a good vet for him. Thanks for the information on what makes a good vet.

Hector Uva
August 9, 2018 3:22 pm

Finding a good vet really is important not only for you but it’s important for your pet to have a good relationship with their vet. I agree that one of the first things you should do is ask for recommendations from your friends or family to see if they’ve been using one they like. My brother just got a puppy and he is in the process of looking for a vet; I will have to share this with him.

Hazel Owens
July 31, 2018 7:43 pm

That’s good to know that you should look to see if a vet is board certified and if the clinic is certified by the AAHA so you’ll know that it has high standard equipment and care. My husband and I just bought a Corgi so we’re trying to find a good animal clinic to go to. We’ll have to look online for the certifications so we can make sure we go to one that has high approval ratings from the industry.

Lilia Robberts
June 27, 2018 9:31 am

My new puppy is the cutest thing ever. I want the best life for her, so I want to make sure I find a good veterinarian. Thank you for the advice about reviewing the positive and negative feedback of a veterinarian when looking at their reviews. It is important I find a reliable doctor for my little baby.

Millie Hue
June 25, 2018 9:05 pm

I totally agree when you said that it is important to find the best veterinarian for my pet since they will be responsible for taking care of the animal. With that in mind, I will make sure to take some time in looking for the vet for my dog to ensure that I will avail the services of a good one. Good thing that I will be receiving the puppy that I bought two weeks from now. It will still give me time to check on the vet clinics in town to find a reputable one. Thanks!

Candice Eisenhower
June 21, 2018 1:27 am

You made a good point about reading online reviews on certain websites and in social media sites to make sure that the veterinarian you picked is known best in the business of taking good care of pets. It makes sense because people will mostly leave reviews based on how they’ve been touched with the service or otherwise and will be happy to let everyone know about it. I’ll definitely follow your advice in seeking a veterinarian to perform a regular check-up with my dog.

Arya Smith
June 19, 2018 7:54 pm

Thanks for explaining some of the accreditations that we can check to ensure that the veterinarian and the facility are reliable. As you mentioned, being able to be certified by the AAHA means that the clinic has met the standards regarding the equipment, facility, and quality of care. I will keep that in mind when I look for a vet clinic this month. We have to find one as soon as possible because we will be receiving the dog that our friend promised to give us next month, and we need to make sure that it will receive the best possible care.

Millie Hue
June 13, 2018 8:53 pm

I like that you suggested going to the actual clinic to help you decide whether they are the best choice for your pet. Like you said, visiting the place itself will give you an idea if the vet and the pet will have a good connection that can help you make the decision right then and there. My pup hasn’t been eating well lately and also has a fungal issue with its skin, so I really have to find a clinic that can solve this problem fast. Thanks!

Tiffany Locke
June 1, 2018 7:18 pm

Your advice to narrow down the list to a few favorite veterinarians and schedule a consultation with them is a good idea. I also like that you mention how this is a good opportunity to ask questions. You could also use this chance to make sure that you and your pet are comfortably at the veterinary hospital and talking to all the staff members, such as their any assistants or secretaries.

Rosie Beckett
May 11, 2018 1:48 pm

I recently bought my first cat and I want to find a quality vet who can walk me through the steps of keeping her healthy. You make a great point that you should ask for recommendations from friends who have pets because they will give an honest opinion of their veterinarian. Also, I will make sure that the vet I choose is certified by the American Animal Hospital Associate because this will give me peace of mind that they are a reputable clinic.

Steele Honda
October 24, 2017 4:34 am

I totally agree that it is very important that if there are many vets in one clinic, my pet keeps seeing the same specialist. I have a puppy who is very active and does not like strangers. I will make sure that in the vet clinic I choose we will see only one professional so that my pet could get used to him.

Ashley Turns
September 26, 2017 10:15 pm

Thanks for the advice that I ask neighbors that are out and about with their pets about local vets they would recommend. Since my husband and I just moved, we are looking for a great animal clinic we can take our puppy into for check-ups or emergencies. Since there’s another couple that walks their dog at the same time we do, I’ll definitely chat them up for what animal clinics they would recommend we take our pet to in case of an emergency and just regularly as well.

Tomas Killington
March 29, 2017 8:56 am

My wife and I have recently adopted a puppy. She is a beautiful husky, and we want to make sure she stays healthy and strong. I didn’t realize how important is to look at a veterinary clinic’s accreditation to see what its standing is among its peers. I’ll be sure to remember that consideration as we start our search.