Choosing the right family veterinarian can be a challenge for some pet owners. And to help out, there are numerous blogs and articles dedicated to this task that present suggestions like:
- Ask friends & neighbors for personal recommendations
- Google search for proximity to home
- Check if open hours make sense for your schedule
- Call or pop in to make sure reception staff is friendly and helpful
- Make an appointment to meet the veterinarian prior to bringing in your pet
But I think the part that causes fear or trepidation for most pet owners, and for myself, is the more nuanced side. Will the veterinarian listen and truly understand my concerns? Will they support my decisions for my own pet’s health regardless of their personal feelings? Am I getting what I’m paying for? Is the cost too low, indicating a poor standard of care? Or so high that I won’t be able to afford the quality of care that I expect to provide for my pet?
I worked in and managed veterinary practices for many years before I left my veterinary technician career to work for Primal. For the first time in my life, I had to choose a veterinarian for my own pets – and it was terrifying.
I am picky. I demand a progressive, modern practice that can give my pets high-quality care at a fair price. I also want a front desk staff that knows that when I say “the boys” I mean my dogs. One that can empathize with me breaking down in the office over simple silly things like my injured or aging best friend. I want a veterinary technical staff who is kind and patient with my scared dog who doesn’t know why I skipped his breakfast this morning and brought him here without his brother. I want them to hug him when he’s waking up from his dental procedure and call me with updates because they know I’m nervously waiting by the phone.
How do I find that?
Honestly? Mostly it’s intuition. And those seemingly trivial steps listed above.
We have a vet locator on our website that features raw-supportive vets. You could start here if that’s something that’s important to you.
- Show up unannounced and ask the front desk what the steps are to become a new patient.
- Notice the climate of the waiting room. Busy is ok. But how are the waiting clients and patients being treated?
- Take mental note of your general observances, take a business card or a magnet, thank them, and go home. Then ask your circle of friends and neighbors if they have any experiences with the practice and go from there.
Some of the most passionate threads on my town’s social media page are the ones about veterinarian recommendation. People will be honest with you.
Once you think you have a practice picked out, I do think it’s important to meet with the veterinarian without your pet for an initial visit and bring a list of questions or topics that are important to you. My personal questions were:
- Are you comfortable and supportive of me feeding a balanced and pathogen-free raw food diet?
- Can you and will you perform annual vaccine titers for my dogs before vaccinating them?
- Do you use a 3-year rabies vaccine protocol?
- Do you perform dental cleanings and all dental work including dental x-rays? What is the cost of those procedures?
- How are your veterinary technicians trained/certified?
- How do you handle a fearful dog?
- What if I have a veterinary emergency during the hours that you are open?
- What types of payment/insurance do you accept?
- Do you perform home euthanasia house calls?
Remember to take everything into consideration and also that one person’s good or bad experience doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.
Help us communicate with the community by sharing your “best veterinary experience” stories on our social media! Tell us what’s important to you in a vet.