5 Tips for Finding the Right Vet-The Dating Game

14th Apr 2018

Have you ever realized how alike the process of finding the right vet and life partner is? The thought came to me after we moved to Central California and began to search for a new veterinarian. Though I have been married for seven-plus years it was not so long ago that I do not remember the angst of dating. As I searched for a vet the past came to mind. Some of the steps and even certain universal characteristics you are looking for are the same. Both can also be lengthy, painful and personal processes. I’m sharing 5 tips and a free cheat sheet to help your quest for finding the right veterinarian.Finding the right vet

Finding the right vet is like finding the right life-partner. Both can also be lengthy, painful and personal processes. Learn 5 tips to finding the right vet. Click To Tweet

Finding a Life Partner Steps

  1. Finding each other: Randomly meet, internet searching, or friend setups (A.K.A Blind dates)
  2. The first date
  3. We are dating but still seeing other people
  4. We are in a committed relationship
  5. We are dating but I have questions (insert into all parts of this relationship’s steps)
  6. I am not sure this relationship is right for me
  7. We discuss and make a decision to stay together forever or break up and return to step one

Finding a Vet Steps

  1. Finding each other: Internet searching and/or friend-neighbor referral
  2. The first visit
  3. Yearly visits
  4. Sick visits
  5. I have questions about my pet’s health and care (insert into all parts of this relationship’s steps)
  6. I am not sure this vet is right for us
  7. We discuss and decide to stay together or break up and return to step one

Finding the Right Vet

There are so many factors to consider when searching for the right vet but there are also some characteristics we are all looking to find. I am sharing my top five tips.

  1. Take a clinic tour
    • Is it clean, modern and well organized?Finding the right vet
  2. A friendly staff & vet
    • Is it difficult to make a well visit?Finding the right vet
    • Are the staff helpful?
    • Consider how it will feel when you call in urgently when your pet is ill as this will be a much more stressful time.
    • Are there several vets in the office? Can you request a particular vet when making an appointment?
    • How does the vet interact with your pet? If your vet interacts well with your pet it will decrease your pet’s stress during their visits.Finding the right vet-Friendly Vet
  3. Like-minded philosophies
    • I am a pet parent, with all that implies. I will go to the ends of the earth for my dog’s quality of life. I am always searching for an alternative, new and researched based treatments for my dog. I call this practice Researched-Based Pet Parenting. I want my vet to be doing the same research as well as open to the discussion of possible new treatment options.Finding the right vet-I am a pet parent
  4. Respectful communication
    • Remember this goes both ways. I am a human Nurse Practitioner and find it amazing how much crossover there is between human and dog health but I am not a vet. I respect what it takes to become a vet and the knowledge acquired.
    • I will also have a lot of questions. I do not like to leave feeling like my questions were annoying or patronized by my dog’s vet. How does the vet respond to your questions? A well visit is a great place to figure this out. Your questions are just as important but are not asked when you are under the stress of illness. How the vet manages and answers your questions now gives you an understanding of how they will manage the stress filled situations. Will they add a calming presence or add to your stress?Finding the right vet-Shasta's Exam
  5. Fees and your budget
    • What types of payment do they accept?  If you have pet health insurance, do they accept your plan? It is important to know, in advance, that you can afford and will be able to pay the vet’s bills.

Why I Choose an AAHA Accredited Vet

The American Animal Hospital Association is the only accrediting agency for the United States and Canada. Most pet parents including myself do not realize accreditation is not a requirement. We are used to human hospitals where it is mandatory.

Accreditation means the office is meeting the highest level of veterinary care. Each renewal takes place every 3 years.

Finding a vet with AAHA accreditation means the office is meeting the highest level of veterinary care. Click To Tweet

AAHA StandardsFinding the right vet

  • Through: A full exam of the entire patient ensures the Vet has a completed picture of your pet’s health.
  • Responsive: As the AAHA website says, “every second counts” when there is an emergency. The standard is to have everything stocked and well labeled for the office’s response.
  • Sanitary: Critical infection control through washing hands and keeping all patient areas clean.
  • Safe: Keeping the pet safe and comfortable during exams is a priority. As well as mandatory training for all staff regarding compassionate care.

Finding the right vet

AAHA Guidelines

In human medicine, we have practice guidelines. Researched-based statements and recommendations to help optimize patient care. AAHA guidelines provide the same researched-based recommendations for veterinary clinics.

  • Diabetes Management
  • Canine Vaccination
  • Canine and Feline Oncology
  • Canine and Feline Behavioral Management
  • Dental Care
  • Life-stages
  • Weight Management
  • Pain Management
  • Anesthesia
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Preventative Medicine

Their guidelines are comprehensive and if you want to read more they are all available on the AAHA website here.

Breaking up is hard to do…

I will admit, I first heard about AAHA in 2016. At that time, I used their certified vet locator to see if one was close to where we live. The closest one was 16 miles. Honestly, I was very happy with our vet and did not have a reason to change. You may have the same situation and have a terrific vet. Just because they are not certified does not mean they are not wonderful and giving great care. You might suggest they get the certification as they probably already meet the criteria and it could be great for their business.

Fast forward our story to 2017. Shasta’s arthritis was getting significantly worse. I tried to talk to our vet about pain management. I wanted to look into all our options including medications, laser treatment, acupuncture, hydrotherapy etc. I left with an anti-inflammatory.

At BlogPaws 2017 I heard about AAHA again from Dr. Heather Loewnser with new interest. I will admit, I cried. I realized how much more we could be doing for Shasta’s pain. I returned immediately to the AAHA website, again looked up certified vets in our area and scheduled an appointment before we had left the conference.Finding the right vet-Shasta's Accupuncture

I realize now how important tip 3 (like-minded philosophies) is. Our first vet is terrific but with a farm vet philosophy (I am just using this as a term, not generalizing vet care). His philosophy reminds me a lot of my father, a farm boy from Iowa. On a farm, a hurt animal is often put down without malicious intent. However, I am a pet parent and I need a vet who understands.

AAHA helped me find the right vet.

Finding the right vet

Have you had trouble finding the right vet?Denise's Dog Dish-Smiles, Barks and Wagging TailsVet Care Disclaimer for Denise's Dog Dish

31 comments on “5 Tips for Finding the Right Vet-The Dating Game

  1. Great article!

    I really like the analogy with dating.

    There are so many factors to look into and we certainly have to be prepared to “shop around” a bit to find the best care possible for our loved ones.

  2. This is really helpful. And I agree that finding the right vet is so important. After all, our pet’s health depends on it and we want only the best for them. Unfortunately, I know some vets that only do it for the money and don’t really care about the pet’s wellbeing.

  3. My solution was two vets. One is almost 100% holistic the other is the vet we’ve had since the wee one needed his first shots and travel documents. It was the only way I could get both sides of an issue without one taking over the other. My vets know about each other so I’m not cheating on them. 🙂

  4. You are so right about how hard it can be to find the right vet partner. Our vet of the last 8 years moved and now I’m at the point where I’m deciding whether or not to stay and just let the other vets in the practice take over. They don’t have much experience with giant breed dogs and the unique needs of mastiffs. This might be the only thing I would add to your list. For those people with pure bred dogs, I think the vet you see should have a good deal of experience with the breed. I was just at the vet last week and after paying them $609 for two preventative visits for both dogs, I still question the lump on Juniors neck and a lump on Sulley’s chest. The latter was dismissed as due to Sulley needing to lose a few pounds, but I’m convinced there is a lump in there. Anyway, my intuition is telling me to leave and find a new vet. Thank you for such a timely, informative post!!

  5. Finding a vet you trust is so important! My vets are pretty good except they only have one door for clients and a tiny waiting room. Since one of my dogs is uncomfortable around strangers, I usually wait outside.

    Before moving, I had a vet clinic that was AAHA certified. It really was ideal in my opinion. Simple things like a separate exit door, two waiting areas, made it so much easier to navigate. They also had someone after hours to provide care for the patients, which I found very comforting.

  6. These are definitely helpful. I’m really happy with our vet, although I didn’t know about the AAHA. I took it for granted that all vets were accredited.
    Amy recently posted…Two years of RufusnessMy Profile

  7. Very useful tips for finding the right vet! We are so lucky to have the SF SPCA vet’s office closeby. they have very gentle caring vets and the staff is so kind!

  8. Those are some great tips! Finding the right vet for a pet is critical in a pet’s care. It’s so important to take your time and feel comfortable getting a second opinion if you ever are unsure about a treatment protocol. Is that our friend Dr. Buzby? We love her!

    • It is Dr. Buzby. She has known Shasta since BlogPaws Nashville and helped his pain with acupuncture last year in Myrtle Beach. Bryn Noelle from “A Dog Walks Into a Bar” took the photos.

  9. We have been so lucky with our primary vets. Unfortunately, they saved him in the chocolate emergency but the next visit, I did not see eye to eye with them on Kilo for a number of reasons so I ended up taking him an hour away to the vet of his rescue who is more patient and tolerant with difficult cases, and open to a wider variety of treatment options. We are due to go back- arggh.

  10. Thanks so sharing such important tips. As your dog’s biggest advocate, finding a vet is crucial. You’ve given pet parents some great tools to help them find the perfect match! I hope to have a chance to catch up with you at the BlogPaws conference!

  11. Great tips. I feel I got lucky with my vet, since I didn’t really do any research beforehand.
    JoeHx recently posted…My Dog Princess’s First SwimMy Profile

  12. Having had mixed experiences with veterinarians, to say the least, finding a new veterinarian is a stressful event for me. When we were moving, I was quite concerned about being able to find a good one. I had an extensive list of requirements they ought to pass.

  13. Great tips and I love how you compare it to dating, because you are right, you have to feel comfortable, at ease and know that your vet thinks/feels the same as you do.

  14. Hindy Pearson on said:

    Great tips! I take vet care very seriously, and I would never just “pick” someone. I have quite a list of criteria that I can’t compromise on, because I know my dog’s life depends on making the right choice. I’ve had a couple of vets that caused the death of 2 of my dogs, and I’ve had amazing ones, and my current vet is the best of the best. I couldn’t care for my dogs as well as I do without his help.

  15. I love the comparison of finding the right to finding the right partner, it is so true! It can be hard to find the right vet and it’s important to find a vet that is the right fit for us and our pup!

  16. Kamira on said:

    These are all great helpful tips and advice for finding the right vet. I also like to see how the vets interact with my pet and if they have a passion for their job. I went to one vet once as a new patient with an appointment and I could tell within the first 5 minutes that the vet was uncomfortable with cats so I had to switch immediately. Definitely listen to your intuition too. Nice post.

  17. I know that our vets who are brothers – one specializes in cats, the other in dogs LOVE animals and for the most part we are very happy with them. Sometimes I do not know if our philosophies totally align but I do not mind hearing options and opinion. They are very educated but I want to see if they are on that list! Just curious – it would not change my mind. Also, another thing I like a lot is they are less than a mile away! That is very nice. They do tend to talk A LOT and they talk in technical terms then explain in layman terms so I always learn something new and have it explained to me. LOL I love your list of things to look for in a vet! Its very comprehensive and if we ever need to find a new one I will use it! You are right, finding the right vet is a lot like finding the right life partner and so far I have not done well with that BOL! I guess I got luckier with the vet than the man.
    Joely Smith recently posted…Pampering Pets In A Multi-Pet HomeMy Profile

    • The most important thing is that you are happy with your vet. It is so great that you have found a good one. Hearing different opinions is great and so important to be able to share back and forth helping you make the best decision you can.

  18. Yes. We’ve vet shopped a lot actually. Some I liked but were far away and others we had horrid experiences with. Finding a good vet can be tricky!
    Tenacious Little Terrier recently posted…Frustration During Dog TrainingMy Profile

  19. I love this so much! I’ve been meaning to write a post similar to it because I feel like this is very important for you, your pup, and your vet. It’ll make life so much easier and make every visit enjoyable to everyone involved. As a vet tech, i see way too many clients who come in with different views than my doctor and end up waisting money and time because they do or listen to any of the docs recommendations because they don’t trust and respect her. It definitely puts their pups at risk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Exclusive place to purchase autographed copies of Harley's Story. Dismiss