Next to you and your family, your dog's vet is the most important person in his life. After all, the vet will be responsible for his health throughout his entire life. So how do you choose a veterinarian that will provide the best possible care?
One of the best ways to find a vet is through the recommendation of a friend. If you know someone in your area with a dog or a cat, ask them where they take their pet and what they think of the quality of service provided.
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Alternatively, a good place to start your search is through the phone book or on the internet. You don't want to have to drive for an hour to receive treatment for your sick dog, so focus on those nearest you. Select a couple of practices in your area and call to see if they'd mind you dropping by to take a look and introduce yourself.
Remember, you don't need to bring your dog for this initial visit. This is purely for you to get a feel for the place and the people who work there. Is it clean? are the staff professional? If you get the chance to meet the vets, are they friendly and approachable? You're going to be entrusting your dog's life to these people so it's important that you feel comfortable with them.
Find out if they are a solo or group practice. Most veterinary clinics have one vet and several nurses to deal with the animals. Group practices are increasingly common because they allow a pool of skills to be available to the patients. However a group practice is not necessarily better than a single vet practice.
Cost is an important factor in determining how you treat your dog's health. Veterinary care can be expensive so it might be a good idea to ask about Pet insurance once you have found the clinic you like.
Another factor to consider is emergency care. A veterinary practice will have arrangements for emergencies 24 hours a day. Find out what the policy is for emergency cases and where they are referred.
The best advice is to take a tip from your dog and follow your instincts. What you want in a veterinarian is someone who cares deeply about animals and your dog in particular.
Your vet will frequently be your first line of contact for many of the trials and tribulations that can arise when you own a dog, so choose someone you feel you can communicate openly and honestly with.