Home & Leisure

What to look for in a vet: Tips from the American Kennel Club

Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC Chief Veterinary Officer on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Getting a new dog is always an exciting time, but with that excitement comes a big commitment. You’ve thought of the food, the bowl, the leash, and the collar, maybe even a training crate! Perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure your puppy lives it’s happiest and healthiest life is to find a veterinarian.

There are some factors that are more crucial than others when choosing a vet. Quality, location, and budget are essential, especially because a veterinarian will play an important role in your pet’s life, as well as your own. When selecting a vet, you want to use the same criteria and care that you would when selecting your own physician. Find someone who is affordable and has hours compatible with your schedule, a vet who you believe will best meet your pet’s needs and with whom you feel comfortable establishing a long-term veterinarian-client relationship.

Things to keep in mind. It’s important to remember that your dog’s entire medical history, including lab results, vaccine records, weight, and surgeries will be kept at your vet, or if need be, transferred if you are leaving the area. Additionally, veterinarians are the ones who will advise you on the best preventive care program to maintain your pet’s health based on your pet’s individual needs and risks of disease.

Preparedness is always good. Finding a vet today can be challenging. Due to veterinarian and staff shortages, as well as an increase in the number of pets acquired in the past several years, many veterinary clinics and hospitals are operating at capacity, and some are no longer accepting new clients. Many recommend checking out veterinarians before you get your puppy. This way, you won’t have to wait excessive amounts of time to schedule the all-important puppy wellness exams and vaccines. This preparedness is also extremely helpful should there be an unforeseen illness, which is especially common with puppies arriving from shelters or rescues. Most breeders recommend that you have a veterinarian assess your puppy or dog within the first 7-14 days of obtaining your dog, just to make sure there are no unseen issues such as a heart murmur or an undescended testicle.


Get recommendations. A great way to find a vet that’s right for you is to get recommendations. This can include talking to your neighbors, friends, and family to find out who they use and if they are happy with the care their dog receives. Your dog’s breeder and your local breed club members are both fantastic resources who will likely know veterinarians with knowledge specific to your breed. Groomers, trainers, and managers of local shelters could be helpful, and state and local veterinary societies can also help you locate a convenient, reputable veterinarian. Though directories and the Internet can be good sources for contact information on local veterinarians, it’s important to be cautious and aware, especially with review sites. Read all the reviews but place more importance on personal recommendations and references when finding a veterinarian.

Check out the clinic. It’s always wise to make an appointment to check out a clinic in person without a dog. Check the location, cleanliness, and the staff’s demeanor with the animals and with each other. Do you like the “vibe?” Does this practice provide in-house digital x-rays, dental x-rays, pet dental care, ultrasounds, and radiology, as well as veterinary surgical services such as general surgery and neutering, orthopedic procedures, and assistance with chemotherapy? Many do not, and that’s ok as long as there is an efficient relationship established to get those services. Find out what arrangements are available for specialty referrals. What is the average wait time for making a non-emergency appointment? Some other questions to consider: Can you request an appointment with a specific veterinarian? What are the regular office hours? Are they compatible with your schedule? Will they accept e-mails or appointments electronically (if that is your preferred scheduling method)? Who covers the practice when the doctor is unavailable? What is the average wait time for making a non-emergency appointment? It’s crucial to be thinking about what questions you can ask about emergency care, professional staff, fees and payment, services, the facility, and what kinds of professional affiliations the veterinarians must have.

Confidence is key. Veterinarians should care about your pets but should also care about you, their clients. They should be available to give you the information and resources you need to take the best possible care of your animals. By taking the time to select the veterinarian that you feel confident can provide for your needs as an owner and the medical needs of your pet, you will establish a satisfying and rewarding partnership.

©2023 American Kennel Club. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC


blog comments powered by Disqus