Ten Questions to Ask a New Vet

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Finding the right veterinarian to care for your pets can be difficult. Just like choosing a physician for yourself, the process should result in discovering the right mix of education, experience, and personality.

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Before meeting with a potential new vet, arm yourself with knowledge. Read the information on the veter

inary practice's website. Search the web for testimonials. Locate the vet's Facebook or Twitter page, if they have one, and see what their clients are saying. And be sure to note any red flags.

Schedule an informational meeting to learn about both the vet and the practice, and take your pet to the first meeting -- not for an exam, but to see what kind of chemistry the vet has (or doesn't have!) with your dog or cat.

And take this list of critical questions to that first meeting to gather all the important information you need to decide if the potential vet is a good fit for you and your pet.

Logistics: These questions will help you determine if the practice's policies meet your criteria. Decide in advance which of these are nonnegotiable. For example, if you want your pet to see the same vet on every visit, pay specific attention to the answer to question one.

Care: Consider the health of your pet and tailor these questions to address any needs or conditions that he or she has, especially if your pet may need specialized care in the future.

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Communication: It's important that you can get in touch with your vet when you need to! Make sure the practice and your specific vet have open lines of communication, and know all the channels you can use to contact him or her.

1. How many vets are in the practice? Will you see the same vet every time or do the doctors switch or rotate without notice?

2. How far in advance does the practice typically schedule appointments?

3. If you need same-day care, will the practice see you or refer you to an emergency vet?

4. What are the qualifications of the technical staff? If your pet needs a simple procedure (like a blood draw or an anal gland expression), can you see a tech or do you need an appointment with the main vet?

5. If your dog has a specific disease or ailment, does the vet have experience treating that condition?

6. Are the vets open to alternative treatments like chiropractic care or acupuncture?

7. Does the practice offer emergency or after-hours care? If not, where would the practice send you?

8. Does the vet or practice have a referral network in case you need specialized care (for instance, from a veterinary dermatologist or an oncologist)?

9. What is the best way to contact the vet during the business day and after hours?

10. Is he or she willing to answer questions via email?

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Finding an appropriate vet for you and your pet may take time, but with some extra research, the task can be less challenging and lead to fewer headaches in the long run.

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The most beautiful scenery is the soonest to disappear. What is hurt the most is always the truest affection.

September 06 2012 at 9:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great list of questions to get a good feel for a practice. We decided, (at Carolina Pets Animal Hospital) to share your questions, and answer them on our facebook page, so that visitors to our page could gather the information that you pose to learn more about the hospital and practices.

Some of the questions/concerns listed in the comments are excellent as well and have very good explanations. It is always a good idea to bring out the "why" question anytime you do not understand a specific procedure, an order of a procedure, or the cost of a particular service or item. Your veterinarians and veterinary staff, (and ours for that matter) should always be open to helping you through your questions and concerns.

Thanks again for the great list of questions that clients should be asking to better familiarize themselves with a practice.

August 24 2012 at 12:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does the practice hospitalize patients overnight or do the refer patients requiring overnight stays elsewhere? If they provide hospilization overnight is there a veterinarian and/or technician on site overnight? If not how are patients monitored? When are they checked on and with what frequency?

August 22 2012 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Also ask about their billing policies. My cat went in for a routine teeth cleaning and the vet called me mid-cleaning and told me she needed to have 6 teeth removed. She said Kit had calcium resorption and the teeth were painful to her even after anethesia. Of course I authorized it even after the vet told me it would cost $700 instead of $300. She told me I could make payments. I arranged to pay half when I picked Kit up and the other half in 2 weeks. I couldn't make the full second payment but offered to pay half of that and then the other half in a week. The bookkeeper told me I couldn't bring Kit back for her post-surgical follow-up because I couldn't pay the whole balance. I asked to speak to the vet because I had questions about problems to look for and to find out if there was anything I could do to prevent further problems. The bookkeeper told me that there was no way I was going to be able to disturb the vet until I was paid up! I have never gone back after I was paid up. (yes I paid the balance including the extra interest and service charges. The work was done so I did owe it.) So make sure you understand the financial requirements at your vet's office and negotiate payments before you even have procedures started. Even if it's an emergency. Vets are allowed by law to refer emergencies to other places for any reason they want!

August 21 2012 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Auntie Kathy

In most municipalities, rabies vaccines are not optional. The municipality dictates the frequency of the vaccinations, too. You didn't do anything wrong in getting the mandated vaccinations. It was just unfortunate, but it's not your fault or your vet's. I'm sorry for your loss.

August 21 2012 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My cat died from a vaccine associated sarcoma from a rabies shot. This is not nearly as rare as reported. Please discuss the risks of vaccines with your vet. Ask about safer vaccines (non-adjuvant), and how often they really need them, as many pets are vaccinated way too often. Titer blood tests can be given to test for immunity if a concern. The vaccines they are given as kittens often provide lifetime immunity. Think about it, do we need to get MMR boosters every year as adults? If I had known the dangers of vaccination, and what options were available, I would have been able to make the right decision for my kitty and he would still be alive today. I'm trying to spread the word about this as much as possible. I don't want other cats to suffer and die young the way mine did, and want to spare other owners the emotional pain that comes with this as well. My little guy was the sweetest cat you could imagine, I miss him more than words can say.

August 21 2012 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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