When you get a pet, one of the first things you need to do is find a veterinarian. If you’ve adopted a puppy or kitten, you need a vet to give all those important vaccinations and also to get your furry friend off on the right paw medically. Even if you’ve adopted an adult dog or cat, you should take her to the veterinarian for a checkup at least once a year.
The next obvious question is how do you find a veterinarian if you’ve just moved to a new town or you’ve never had a pet before? Of course, first you can check the local yellow pages to see who is out there. Many listings give you an address so you can determine if the vet clinic is near your house. It’s not just a convenience issue; your proximity to the vet clinic can make a difference if you have a veterinary emergency.
You also can look online for vet clinics. Various vet locator sites exist and many veterinarians have their own Web sites these days, so you can learn a little about their facility from the convenience of your keyboard. If you adopted your pet from an animal shelter, they may also provide a list of local veterinarians. (Often they are prohibited from actually recommending a specific clinic, however.)
The best way to find a veterinarian is to just ask around. Odds are good that someone you know has animals, so they’ll undoubtedly have opinions on veterinarians. (When we moved here, one of our cats was sick, so we got a recommendation from the realtor who sold us our house.)
After you’ve made a selection, you may want to go to the clinic without your critter first to talk to the vet and check out the facility. Many vets will let you set up an “informational” appointment like this so they can get to know you. This visit is your chance to check out the clinic. Is it clean? What do you think of the staff? Are the other animals there totally freaked out or just (naturally) nervous? How does the vet seem to treat the other patients and staff?
Of course, you may find that your neighbors were wrong and you don’t like the vet they recommended. Just because someone else says they love a particular veterinarian doesn’t mean that vet is right for you. Veterinarians are people and sometimes people get along and some times they don’t. If you feel intimidated or uncomfortable in any way, you probably should keep looking.
When you establish a good relationship with your veterinarian, you should be partners with a common goal: your pet’s health. So you always want to understand what your vet is telling you. Ask questions and keep asking until you understand the medical advice he or she is giving you. Vets see your pet for only a few minutes, so they rely heavily on information from the owner to diagnose problems. The dog or cat can’t say what hurts, so your observations are important. If you can’t communicate well with the vet, your pet is the one who loses.
Taking the time to finding a veterinarian you like and who will care for your pet is time well spent. Assuming your dog or cat lives a long healthy life, you may get to know your veterinarian very well.