When it comes to choosing a vet for your pet, it’s important to choose a veterinarian you can trust, and who you feel you would have a connection with. They’ll be responsible taking care of your best friend’s medical needs to ensure they live a long, happy and healthy life, especially when it comes to emergency care. It makes sense that you take the time to research the vets in your area to find the one that best works for you and your needs.

Your vets should not only be able to take care of all the routine healthcare involved in looking after your pet, but should also be able to foresee potential health problems and medical conditions, and assist with preventative care.

If you need to find a new veterinarian practice, here are our top 10 things to consider when choosing a vet to help make your search a little easier and less stressful for both you and your pet.

1. Establish the kind of care your pet needs

Not all vets treat every type of animal, so you’ll need a vet that deals with your pet’s species. You also need to think about the care that your pet will need. Do they need just routine care, or do they have a specialist condition that will require a different level of care?

2. Establish the vet’s accreditation and experience

Before you consider any veterinarian practice, check that they’re accredited by the Accreditation Program for Australian Veterinarians (APAV). You may also want to check out the qualifications held by the vet, and the veterinary assistants and nurses. The length of time the staff stay with the practice should give you an indication of the general working environment within the clinic itself.

3. How attentive are the staff to your pet?

The level of attention a vet gives to both you and your pet is a crucial factor for finding a great vet. If they are not attentive enough, it’s possible that they may miss vital clues of potentially more serious conditions. Take notice of how the vet and the practice staff interact with animals. Do they show a genuine love and concern for animals? How much time are they prepared to spend with your pet assessing any issues.  You’ll be able to judge this from their body language and the way they treat the animals that come into their surgery.

4. How attentive are the staff to you?

While it’s important to ensure that your pet is getting the right level of attention from the vet, you also need to feel that they’re able to communicate easily with you. A good relationship with your vet relies on communication, shared values, and the feeling that you can ask questions when you don’t quite understand what is going on. You need to feel that your vet will listen to your concerns, and give you confidence in the way they diagnose and treat your pet.

5. Is the practice in a suitable location?

Even if it claims to be the best veterinary practice in Australia, it won’t be of much use to you if you can’t access it easily. That’s why it makes sense to choose a vet that is within a reasonable distance of your home, so that you can get there quickly in an emergency – parking can also be a consideration.

6.  What kind of services are available?

A good veterinary practice will give you access to services such as x-rays, blood pressure monitoring, ultrasound, in-house lab tests, and even dentistry. You may want to check out what kind of equipment is available within the practice and who is qualified to use it. And knowing whether they have a method of monitoring overnight patients will give you peace of mind if your pet needs to be admitted to the surgery.

7. What are the opening hours?

Knowing the opening hours is vital if you’re a working pet owner. If you’re not able to get to the surgery during normal working hours, does your surgery offer late night and weekend openings?

8. What are the costs involved?

No doubt that caring for your pet can sometimes be a costly business. Does the vet have fixed costs for set procedures, or do they give full quotes before going ahead with treatment? These are all questions to ask when scoping out a new veterinarian practice.

9. Are there specialist vets available in the surgery?

Some veterinary practices have access to specialist vets available for services such as dentistry, dermatology and ophthalmology. Other practices may specialise in diagnostic imaging, critical animal care or animal cardiology. However, having these specialisms may not be a factor in your search if your pet is in relatively good health.

10.  Where to look for a vet?

While you can use the pet pages of your local directory to find a vet in your area, you may want to consider asking other pet owners. Perhaps your friends or relatives are using a local vet? You’ll find plenty of satisfied vet users in dog parks or dog training clubs. How about asking at your local pet grooming salon or even your former vet if you’re planning to move out of the area? Also, make sure to check online reviews in case of any issues that have been flagged by past clients.

The bottom line? Use your gut feeling

Many of us seem to have forgotten how to use our gut instinct. However, if you listen to your intuition, you’ll soon know whether the practice in mind is the right place for you and your pet. Finding a vet that instills trust and confidence is vital for any successful relationship, and also for the welfare of your pet.

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Liz Walden

Liz has a passion for all things animal - whether it's cats, dogs, rabbit or horses! Liz was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure Pet Insurance for the past 12 years, and Pet Professional Insurance since 2018. Liz is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, supporting those who work in the pet industry, as well as those who work to promote a better life for all animals.