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Shopping for a Vet

If you have a pet, you should have a vet…

Just like every human should have an established primary care physician if possible, you will want your pet to have one as well.  Many vet clinics including our own will prioritize established clients if a same day appointment is needed or desired for an acute medical problem.  Most of the best flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives are prescription only which will require your pet to have been seen by the vet within the last year to obtain.  Lastly having an established relationship with a vet who knows your dog or cat can make vet care more affordable by having access to frequent special promotions and lower cost technician appointments for some routine vaccinations and grooming needs.  With all of this in mind here is our  Insider’s Guide for Shopping your forever Vet:

Shopping a vet is only a little different than shopping any other service-based business.

Step 1

Get references: You will want to ask other pet owners who they use and why, online reviews can be helpful- check Facebook, Google, Nextdoor, and other sights for customer experiences and clinic responses to negative reviews. 

Insider Tip: Google reviews are your safest bet for a snap shot of customer experiences since they allow for both positive, negative, and responses from the business. 

Step 2

Call around and perform a 5 minute phone interview:  A good sign when you call a vet office is a friendly  staff member willing to give you at least 5 minutes of their time, and if they cannot, they will ask to call you back to answer any questions you have.  Please don’t be the person calling a busy vet clinic and keeping a staff member on the phone for 45 minutes to review every price they have or you may get the cold shoulder from even a good vet office.  Pick 3-5 items to compare between all vets you call and ask specifics about what is included in spay or neuter packages so you can accurately compare apples to apples.  (For those wanting a comprehensive list of pricing at our vet hospital, we offer an online menu of service).

For example:  Some Spay packages (like ours) will include pre operative pain meds, post op pain meds, full anesthetic monitoring, IV fluids, E collar, nail trim, free rechecks, and patient warming.

Some will simply quote you for the procedure and all or some of the above will be extra.  DO NOT skimp on post op pain meds.  You would not want to get your stomach cut open without them, your pet doesn’t either.

Insider Tip:  Small dogs will benefit greatly from patient warming due to the ease with which they loose body heat under anesthesia.  This can prevent hypothermia related complications.

Step 3

Visit the vet hospital website, a professionally managed website is a good indicator of a professionally managed vet clinic.  Look for clinic philosophy, mission statement and core values and compare to your own.  Consider picking the vet that seems more closely aligned to your own philosophy regarding pet care, not every vet is for every pet.

Insider Tip:  A vet’s established core values will inform you how they may make complicated or ethically challenging decisions if they arise.  If no philosophy or core values are available, you should consider asking why?

Step 4

Check the vet’s hours of operation- make sure your busy schedule will allow you to utilize their service for routine pet care without taking significant time off of work.  Some vet clinics offer weekend hours and or early and late hours to accommodate different schedules. 

Insider Tip: Most vets do not offer afterhours emergency care if there is an emergency clinic within 50 miles of their practice.  You will pay more for afterhours care, so if something can be addressed during the day DO IT and save yourself hundreds of dollars.

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Shepherd of the Hills Veterinary Clinic

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