Part 3 – How to choose the right Vet

How to choose the right vet

Whether you’ve adopted a dog from a rescue or purchased a puppy, the biggest decisions you have to make is around their healthcare. One of the things you need to decide is which vet to use.

When it comes to choosing a vet you have to remember that these are the people that you will be dealing with for all of your pets routine treatments as well as their emergencies, so it has to be someone that you like and feel you can trust. There are a few things that I look for in a vet, which I will share below. Your list may be different but the important thing is to know what you’re looking for.

When I worked in the pet stores, we usually had a vet surgery inside the store, so every time I changed roles and stores I would change vets. It was just convenient for me to be able to take my dogs into work with me and have them seen and treated while I carried on working. I got on with most of the vets and nurses and trusted them so it really didn’t matter to me, but when I left that job I decided to find a vet closer to my home.

Firstly I had to decide whether to use a regular vet or a holistic vet. I actually now use both because the nearest holistic vet is still too far away for emergencies.

Then I had to decide which local vet I wanted to use. Most of the vets in my area are owned by large corporate veterinary groups, so the first thing I did was ask for recommendations. I spoke to different pet owners about the surgeries they used. I questioned their thoughts on the veterinary teams, the level of care and the prices they charged for their routine consultations and treatments.

Then I rang each recommended surgery and questioned their opening hours and out of hours service.

I’m not someone who cares about which Individual vet treats my dog. Once I trust a surgery, my dogs can be booked in with any vet that’s available to see them but I do like the same vet to then see them for any follow up visits for that same condition. I would rather my animals don’t have to travel to an out of town emergency vet to be treated by a team of professionals that don’t know them, so when I’m choosing which vet to use, I try to choose one with longer opening hours or an in house 24 hour service. 

I also look for a vet that will work with me and my chosen holistic vet for the overall health of my pet and won’t give me a lecture when I tell them that my dogs are raw fed, on natural flea and worm treatments instead of chemical ones or are titre tested instead of vaccinated yearly. This is something that still divides the veterinary field at the moment so finding a vet that will support this or even just keep quiet about it is crucial for me.

I also want a vet that makes my pet feel comfortable in the consult room but also explains everything to me and answers my questions in a way that allows me to make an informed choice about their treatment.

I have seen vets that my dogs absolutely love, but either their people skills leave a lot to be desired or they’ve spent the whole consult trying to get me to agree to a treatment without explaining why they want to do it or how it will help my dog. I have also seen vets that actually don’t seem to have any interest in my dog, they don’t even say hello, just go straight in for an examination but they then explain everything so clearly that I’m left in no doubt of the best course of treatment. Thankfully nowadays I have one that does both, all the vets, nurses and receptionists in my surgery act like my dog is the only one that matters and also take the time to explain everything clearly and answer any questions.

Finally I need a vet that will be straight with me. If there’s no chance for treatment then they need to just say that.

I remember one time when my cat was ill, I rushed him to the out of hours vet and he told me that he almost definitely had a cancerous tumour in his stomach. It was a massive shock but I accepted that this was the case because of the symptoms he had shown, however the vet gave me the choice of euthanasia or medication. He told me the medication obviously wouldn’t cure him but that it would make him more comfortable if I wanted to take him home and spend some time with him and get him booked in with my own vet when I felt happy to put him to sleep. I chose the medication but when I got home and sat with him I knew that I should have just let him go, so I took him into work the next morning, settled him in a crate in our office and booked him in with my vet to be put to sleep at the end of my shift.

Two hours later my vet came downstairs to find me and I’ll never forget his words, “your cat needs to be put to sleep, I have seen the notes from the vet last night and that medication was to allow you to come to terms with things but it’s not fair on your boy”. Now some people would think that was harsh but I loved him for it. It just proved that I was making the right decision and when it comes to making end of life decision for my pets I need a vet that will tell me straight like that rather than tiptoe around me.

I now use 3 different surgeries for my dogs, I have my holistic vet for all of my natural advice, my everyday vet that I use for all of my routine treatments or for things that happen during their opening times, and my chosen 24hours vets for anything that happens when the main practice is closed but are a bit too far out for me to use day to day. All of these vets tick all of the boxes I have listed above and I don’t think I’ll ever change vets again.