How to Choose the Best Veterinarian for Your Pet

Here is what should you look for before hiring a new veterinarian.

In some ways, choosing a vet for your pet is more stressful than choosing a physician for yourself. Because pets have trouble communicating their pain, and because veterinary visits are stressful for pets, a veterinarian must be both intuitive and kind. So, what should you look for before hiring a new veterinarian?

Get referrals

Whether you're new to an area or new to pet ownership, the best place to start shopping for a new veterinarian is to speak to other pet owners. If your pet is a dog, ask for referrals at your local dog park. If you have a cat or more exotic pet, look for reviews on YelpNextdoor, and other social media sites. Join a local forum or Facebook page dedicated to pets like yours if you haven't already. Finally, look for a vet that's accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

How much experience does the vet have with your pet's species?

Most veterinarians treat dogs and cats. Fewer treat animals like birds, fish, lizards, snakes, and small mammals like mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs. You may need to find a rural veterinarian that specializes in farm animals for large animals.

Even if a veterinarian treats a variety of animal species, they might specialize in one. The only way to know that is to ask.

Interview the vet

In our parents' and grandparents' eras, veterinarians were veterinarians. Today, veterinary treatments are as varied as human medical treatments. You want to be sure that a vet is open to your healthcare philosophy but isn't afraid to share the latest science. How do they treat pain and anxiety? What is their philosophy toward spaying and neutering? Does the vet offer or endorse alternative treatments such as chiropractic and acupuncture? How do they treat cancer or other life-threatening illnesses? Do they provide in-home euthanizations?

What do they charge for office visits, lab work, x-rays, and other essential services? Do they accept insurance or offer financial assistance if needed? Do they provide 24-hour emergency services?

More significantly, go with your gut. You are looking for a relationship that could last for 15 years or more. Even if the vet knows what they are doing, they may not be a good match if they're dismissive or short with you.

Take a look at their office

A veterinary office, like any medical office, should be sanitary. Are there separate waiting room areas for dogs and cats? Does the staff seem warm and attentive?

Observe the veterinarians and staff with your pet or pets

Once you've narrowed down your choices, bring your pet in for a visit. Expect that your pet will be stressed, but you, as the pet owner, know when they're more stressed than they'd typically be. Is the staff helpful? Is the veterinarian thorough and empathetic?

If you find that your pets become less comfortable with their vet as time goes by, don’t be afraid to find another one.


Clare Martin
Clare Martin

My brother gave me one of his dog’s puppies since she just gave birth and he can’t raise all of them, so I was thinking of taking my new pet to a vet for a checkup and vaccination next week. I appreciate your advice when you told us to look at the office before we decide which veterinary clinic we should consider for our pet since we need to make sure that the place is sanitary with trained and attentive staff. I’ll take note of this while I look for an animal hospital in Gilbert that can provide us with emergency pet medical care 24/7.

Clare Martin
Clare Martin

It was a good piece of advice when you told us to inquire if the vet has experience with our pet’s species first and make sure they specialize in it before deciding on them to ensure we are entrusting our pet to someone who knows what they’re doing. I recently took home a stray kitten, and I wanted to take her to the vet soon for a checkup and vaccination. I’ll keep this in mind while I look around the area for veterinary hospital I might consider for my new pet.

Clare Martin
Clare Martin

It’s good that you advised us to check in with the vet first about their experience regarding our pet’s species to ensure they specialize in them if we want to receive better services. I recently adopted a puppy, and I wanted to take him to the vet soon so he can get a checkup and have his vaccine shots done. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for an animal clinic to take my pet to soon.

Anna Collins
Anna Collins

I’m thankful for your reminder when you told us to take a look at the animal hospital in person before deciding on one to ensure we choose an office that is sanitary and has the essential services we need. I recently adopted a puppy, so I need to find a vet clinic to go to for his medical checkups from now on. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for animal hospitals in the area that I might consider.

Anna Collins
Anna Collins

I recently adopted a puppy, and I plan to get him vaccinated next week since my landlord will only allow me to keep him if I get him his shots. It was a good piece of advice when you told us to make sure that we check if the veterinarian we are considering has experience handling our pet’s species since each one has a different specialization. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for vet clinics in the area that I might consider calling for an appointment soon.

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