9 Things to Look for in a New Veterinarian


Once again, Carol Bryant from Fidose of Reality and myself, have decided to bring together our experiences in order to give you two sides to the same story. If you missed our inaugural post of Medicine versus Mom, you can check it out here.

 If you aren’t familiar with Carol Bryant, she is a good friend and fellow pet blogger. She is the founder and CEO of Fidose of Reality. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you really should! As a seasoned blogger and writer she brings her dedicated pet parent perspective to share will all “Dog Lovers of the Highest Order”. Her posts are always a must read for me, and for any other pet parent out there. As we progress through our Medicine versus Mom series, I hope to share with you even more reasons why Carol is awesome! 


How do you know when it is time to find a new veterinarian and what do you look for in your new doctor?

Personally, I think the #1 reason anyone should look for a new veterinarian, is if the veterinarian’s practices aren’t in line with their needs as a client.

From my experience, there are several different aspects that clients look for in their veterinarian:

1. Medicinal Practices: How generous or conservative is this veterinarian when it comes to pain management and anesthetic protocol? Don’t be afraid to ask how they monitor anesthesia and control pain during surgeries and procedures. It is important that they provide a level of transparency with you and your pet’s health.

2. Difference Makers: What does this veterinarian provide that another veterinary hospital couldn’t? Do they have exceptional experience? Unmatched equipment? Find out why they will be able to provide your pet with the best treatment available in your area.

3. Ability and Willingness to Answer Questions: Have you ever been in the room with your doctor, or veterinarian, and felt like they weren’t willing to explain? Or even worse, that they were patronizing you during their explanation? This is enough to make anyone change their doctor or veterinarian. Definitely take the time to look for someone who will do their best to help you understand, and doesn’t make you feel unintelligent when doing so.

4. Understanding Finances: Everyone has a different budget and disposable income when it comes to their pets. A veterinarian should be as understanding and flexible as possible when it comes to your pet’s treatment. They should be willing to explain to you the difference between the absolutely necessary treatments, and the treatments that could wait for another day (if applicable).

5. Diversity of Medicine: Look for a veterinarian who is highly educated and accredited. Veterinarians often seek additional education and certification after attending veterinary school, which furthers their knowledge and ability to treat your pet. All veterinarians and veterinarian technicians are required to keep up with their states CE or Continuing Education requirements, but some professionals in this industry go above and beyond the required education.

For example, Dr. Summer Godfrey who works at Pleasanton Veterinary Hospital not only graduated from UC Davis with her DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), she also graduated from the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese medicine in 2008, which allows her to treat patients with a combination of eastern and western medicine. She provides her patients (Rooney) with more tools to improve their health.

6. Location: Let’s face it, location matters when it comes to a veterinarian. Not only is it more convenient to have your veterinarian near by, it is also better for your pet’s health and safety if you ever experience an emergency situation. The area that we live in also supports 24 hour veterinary emergency, and it just so happens that Rooney’s doctor mentioned above, works there also.

7. Willingness to Make Adjustments: Sometimes, your pet needs adjustments to their treatment plan. For example, we had this one patient who would lose her mind the second we brought her in the hospital. However, if we examined her, and did most necessary treatments outside by the grass, she felt totally fine and very comfortable. Obviously, if this patient needed a procedure or some major treatment, we would have to bring her inside, but for her annual exam and vaccines, why not leave her where she is most comfortable?

Now that I think about it, we had a few patients like that, and we were always willing to make adjustments for our patients, and I think this was important to our clients.

8. Relationship with Specialists: If your veterinarian is unable to perform a specialty surgery or procedure, are they able to put you in contact with the right doctor? If your veterinarian isn’t available 24 hours, can they put you in contact with an emergency or other 24 hour hospital? These are important things to consider when evaluating a veterinarian.

9. Bedside Manner: this is a fancy term for how much tact a doctor has when dealing with you and your pet. I have worked with veterinarians who are very friendly and have excellent bedside manner, and I have worked with veterinarians who are a little on the quirky side. Regardless, the initial first impression of a veterinarian is something that usually gets burned in a client’s brain.

Most important, is whether or not your pet likes your veterinarian’s personality and disposition. Sometimes, certain pet’s tend to gravitate toward one gender or another, and it is important that they feel comfortable.

If your veterinarian isn’t meeting your expectations, how do you go about finding another doctor?

1. The American Animal Hospital Association (AHAA) provides pet parents with a list of accredited veterinary hospitals. Each AHAA accredited veterinary hospital meets AHAA standards on 900 different measures of veterinary excellence.

2. Be weary of local review sites and forums. Although some reviews provide some truth, people are motivated to write reviews when they are upset, so take what people say with a grain of salt.

3. Don’t forget to ask your pet parent friend’s who live in the area, but make sure your questions are specific to exactly what it is that they like about their veterinarian.

Have you ever made a veterinary switch? What motivated this move?

For Carol’s Mom perspective on this subject, please hop over to her blog here.

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35 Comment

  1. Reply
    M. K. Clinton
    January 13, 2015 at 10:57 am

    After meeting the AAHA representatives at BlogPaws 2014, I came home and found my own accredited vet clinic. It truly makes all of the difference in the world.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB Channel 7 NETWoof News January 12, 2015My Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      That is awesome! Say hello to Bentley for me!

  2. Reply
    January 13, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Moving to a new state far from home, and not knowing anyone in your new area makes it difficult to find a new vet. This article is a great help so you know what to look for, and questions to ask. But always remember to trust your intuition, if something just doesn’t sit well with you and the vet, a vet tech or staff, keep looking. If you are not comfortable more than likely your pet will not be either.

    Great post Rachel.
    Suzanne recently posted…Grieving the loss of a family petMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Suzy, I completely agree!

  3. Reply
    Cathy Armato
    January 13, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Great tips! I love that you actually examined a nervous patient outside! I once dropped a vet because they seemed a bit too eager to refer me to a specialist where it didn’t seem worth doing. I later learned that they actually are qualified to treat animals at our local zoo! I hadn’t known that. I guess it’s a tradeoff, but additional education & certification is definitely valuable.
    Cathy Armato recently posted…Thinking of Joining a Gym? Work Out With Your Dog Instead!My Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Cathy, we sure did! We actually had a few patients that we examined outside because it made them more comfortable. We definitely wanted to put them first!

  4. Reply
    Jana Rade
    January 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    For me, picking a new vet was a enormous task. We were happy with the one we had but because of the move wouldn’t be able to see him any more. It was a painstaking task but I did find a vetI feel confident about at our new location. Whew!
    Jana Rade recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: The Mask Of CookieMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      Jana, I am so glad you were able to find the right vet! It is a difficult task, but is so central to our lives!

  5. Reply
    Geoffrey Hooker
    January 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    The American Association of Feline Practitioners has a list of their members and of cat-friendly practices. That list can be searched at http://www.catvets.com/cat-owners/find-vets-and-practices .

    Another thing to consider: Are there any pets that live at the clinic? My current vet has three rescues living there, and I have visited other vets in this area (and some others) that have resident pets.
    Geoffrey Hooker recently posted…Welcome — read thisMy Profile

    1. Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Geoffrey, thank you so much for adding this url. This is a great resource!

  6. Reply
    Albie Cardew
    June 12, 2015 at 6:38 am

    The last tip about beside manner can be one of the biggest factors in your animal’s experience at the vet. As you mentioned, personality can be a significant factor when choosing a doctor, so it’s important to find one that interacts well with not only you but your animal. Going to the vet’s office can be a terrifying ordeal for many pets, but a comforting and kind doctor can make all the difference.

    1. Reply
      June 23, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Exactly! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  7. Reply
    Liz Armeson
    October 26, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    This is some really helpful advice! I know it’s easy to stop looking at things like this and just inherently trust people like doctors and vets. But there are a lot of things that go into it, and you have to remember that they work for you. Thanks for writing, this will do me a lot of good looking for a new vet!

  8. Reply
    Jenny Gygi
    December 22, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I just barely got a new puppy, and I’ve been trying to decide on which veterinarian that I should take her to. I liked that you mentioned how I as I look for a vet, I should try and find one that is willing to answer my questions. I think that if a vet is open to answering questions, and can answer them well, it shows that they are skilled in what they do! I’ll keep this in mind as I search for a good vet in my area! Thank you for the help!

    1. Reply
      December 30, 2015 at 7:34 am

      No problem! I hope this information was helpful. Congratulations on your new puppy!

  9. Reply
    Kenneth Gladman
    March 23, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    My wife and I are moving in the next month and are really going to miss our old vet. I agree with you on transparency during procedures, our vet was always up front with us. These are great things to look for in finding the best for your pet. We will have to do our research in finding one in our new area that is just as good.

  10. Reply
    Jeff Madison
    March 23, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    I appreciate your tip on considering location when looking for a vet. Our dog usually loves to ride in the car but it seems that he can sense when we’re taking him to the vet. Because of that, I would imagine that having a vet who’s office is close by would help both reduce our stress as well as his.

  11. Reply
    Jeff Madison
    April 15, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    I appreciate your tip on how you should look for a vet with a willingness to answer your questions. I would imagine that if a vet can answer all your questions well it is probably a sign that they are qualified. My wife and I are looking for a clinic for our dog so we’ll be sure to find one where they can answer all of our questions fully.

  12. Reply
    Paul Langley
    May 6, 2016 at 10:20 am

    This is some really great advice for anyone looking to find the right veterinarian for their four-legged furry friend. I really liked your point about making adjustments, because simple things like that can make vet visits a lot easier for owners and pets. And removing the hassle makes it much more likely that they’ll come back for the regular checkups they need. Thanks so much for writing!

  13. Reply
    Vivian Black
    May 6, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    I have two dogs and a cat and finding a quality veteranarian when I move is really important. THe advice to look at additional education and certification is very helpful. I agree that bedside manner is so important espeically when working with your beloved pets.

  14. Reply
    Silas Knight
    June 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I have always thought that it’s really important to find the best vet for your pets. I really like the eigth one you have here, having a good relationship with the specialists can make a world of difference. Especially if your pet needs surgery, like you said.

    1. Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Thank you Silas!

  15. Reply
    linda Prin
    June 29, 2016 at 9:21 am

    I love that you mention finding a vet clinic or professional that will educate/inform you of your pets medical challenges. I have two vets in my area that I absolutely love and they both make this possible. I recognize the value of wanting an incredibly smart doctor caring for my pets, but for my pet to really be happy I want the necessary communication to do so. That being said, hope your journey is a favorable as mine, My vets love my pets (vets that love pets are the best).

  16. Reply
    August 3, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I appreciate this helpful article on things to look for in a new veterinarian. I agree that it’s important to find a veterinarian that will take the time to help you understand the situation. I will be sure to ask them about their medicinal practices as well. Thanks for sharing! I want to find a good vet for my new dog.

  17. Reply
    Jenna Hunter
    January 17, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    It was astonishing to learn that the initial first impression of a veterinarian is something that usually gets burned in a client’s brain. My cat has been having issues for 3 weeks eating and doesn’t want to eat what I give her. I would imagine that an experienced veterinarian could help her eat right again!

  18. Reply
    February 8, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I think the article makes a good point about how the diversity of medicine is something to look for in a good veterinarian. I also personally think this applies to the staff as well. I’ve read elsewhere that 75% of your pet’s interaction at a clinic is with the staff, and not the veterinarian. That being said, I think it’s important to look at the quality of the clinic as a whole.

  19. Reply
    Deedee Lewis
    February 8, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I really like your tip about having a vet that’s willing to make adjustments for your pet so that they are comfortable. Our vet does is adjustable with our lab’s needs and we are always so appreciative of it. I will keep the rest of these vet tips in mind.

  20. Reply
    Annika Larson
    March 31, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    I recently got a puppy, and I want to make sure she is getting the right medical attention needed. Finding the right vet is critical to maintaining her health. As you said, when choosing a vet, considering their ability and willingness to answer questions is a good indicator of their experience and professionalism. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Reply
    Bernard Clyde
    April 11, 2017 at 7:58 am

    I agree that you should find a veterinarian who is willing to make some changes to your pet’s care if it is not working like it should. The same goes for the staff at the animal hospital. I also think that you should feel comfortable communicating with the vets if there is a change in care that concerns you or you think should be made. It’s important that you feel safe leaving your pet under their care.

  22. Reply
    Taylor Bishop
    August 7, 2017 at 7:19 am

    I’m glad that you mentioned to take the time to find someone who can help you understand any questions you may have. I can understand how this is important, especially if it’s questions regarding your pet. Being able to have that dialogue and conversation could help the safety of your pet, as well and maybe even helping you understand some good safety procedures to have just in case. Perhaps it could be worthwhile to have a list of questions you want to ask.

  23. Reply
    Brynne Jones
    August 10, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    I like how you suggested finding a vet who is able and willing to answer any questions you may have. It was helpful that you included finding someone who will take the time to help you understand what you need to know regarding your pet’s health. My brother recently adopted a cat from his local shelter. It could be beneficial for him to find a vet service who is well equipped to answer any questions he may have about his new pet.

  24. Reply
    Roger Middleton
    August 15, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    I recently received a Labrador as a gift and after having him for about 3 weeks I’ve been notified that he needs his first set of shots and I’ve been very nervous about finding the perfect veterinary clinic for my dog. I like that you had mentioned that a good vet will be willing to answer questions and help you understand what is or needs to be done. I’ll be asking a lot of questions because I care about my dog a lot and I want to make sure he gets the best care possible.

  25. Reply
    Violette Lebrac
    August 21, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I like that you talked about choosing a veterinarian based on their education and accreditation. My cat has feline leukemia, and it’s important to me that she receives the best care possible. If I find an animal hospital with vets who have good education credentials, then I’d feel comfortable taking my cat there.

  26. Reply
    August 29, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    That seems valuable to look for a veterinarian who is highly educated and accredited. It’s important to check those before you bring your pet in. You can also check the BBB for practices with high ratings.

  27. Reply
    Roger Middleton
    December 12, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    My wife and I have recently gotten a puppy and he’s already become a large part of our lives but, we need to find a vet to take him to in order to get his shots! I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to look for a 24-hour vet if possible that can help you whenever there might be an issue. We’ll have to start doing some research and looking into clinics in our area and hopefully, we can find a 24 hour one!

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