One of the most important things you as the caregiver of a special-needs pet can do is to find the best vet possible for your pet and for you. This page contains some suggested guidelines for screening and selecting a vet.
Beginning the Search
Before you begin, think about what is most important to you. Some factors you may want to consider are:
- Training, experience, and competence
- Bedside manner
- Comprehensiveness of services offered
- Allopathic vs. holistic
- Convenient location
Compile a list of potential vets/clinics. If possible, get recommendations and referrals from people whose judgment you trust or from other reliable sources (rescue groups and locally-owned pet supply stores are often good sources to try).
Call the clinic. Let staff know who the “patient” is in terms of age, physical condition, and special needs, and ask for their feedback in terms of what they would suggest for a get-acquainted visit.
Ask whether the vet would schedule a preliminary visit for you, without your pet, so that you can interview him/her, ask some pertinent questions, and have a look at the clinic. Depending on the response, tell them that you will call again to schedule a preliminary appointment.
If you like what you heard on the phone, then walk into the clinic unannounced, and let the receptionist know that you are a potential new client. Ask for any pamphlets they might have on the clinic, their services, philosophy, costs, etc. Sit down in the waiting area and observe how the staff interacts with clients and, more important, their patients:
- How do they schedule appointments? Do they book 15-, 20-, or 30-minute appointments for their patients?
- How does the clinic staff interact with clients in the clinic and on the phone?
- Does the vet come out to the waiting area, and if so, how does he/she interact with clients and patients? How does he/she interact with the clinic staff?
- Is the general look and feel of the clinic appealing to you?
- Is the reception/waiting area comfortable for people and pets? Is it chaotic or quiet?
- How does the clinic smell?
- What is the noise level in the clinic?