Whether you have a new puppy or kitten, or you're moving to a new town, you will need to find a good veterinary hospital. It's best to find your new veterinary hospital before you need one; either before you bring your new puppy or kitten home, or before your cat or dog becomes ill. It's important for you and your pet to be comfortable with the hospital and its staff.
"My advice is to get a testimonial from someone you can trust to recommend a hospital or a specific doctor," says Paul Gambardella, V.M.D., M.S., Diplomate ACVS, Hospital Director of Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, New Jersey.
You can ask also your breeder if you have a purebred cat or dog. That person is likely to know a hospital that is familiar with your breed's characteristics and personality as well as any predispositions to genetic problems.
"Also choosing a hospital that is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association is an assurance that it has met the high standards of that Association," advises Gambardella who makes an excellent point. AAHA accredited hospitals must meet a specific set of standards and they receive "surprise" visits from inspectors to ensure that they are continuing to meet those standards. They essentially meet the standards of a hospital for humans.
You should not only meet the veterinarian and staff before taking your pet there for an appointment but you should also ask for a tour. It's worth paying for the doctor's time so that you can ask questions about his or her standard practices, the hours the hospital is open, what happens after hours, is there a referral service or do their veterinarians come in and meet you there in case of an after-hours emergency.
Ask about payment, prices as well as whether or not they take checks, credit or debit cards. This can be embarrassing for some people but it's important. If a service, such as a surgery, is very expensive, is there a payment plan? Do they accept veterinary insurance and, if so, which one(s)?
It's also important that you feel comfortable with the veterinarian(s) in the practice. You have to be able to communicate because you are your pet's advocate since your pet can't speak and tell the doctor what hurts or when the problem started, etc. You'll also want to ask if the veterinarians discuss individual cases so that you are, essentially, getting more than one opinion, and are they comfortable with sending you off to a specialist if your pet needs one, or you want another opinion?
"There are no red flags until you experience the hospital and its staff, and then the first impression usually hinges on appearance and odor," says Gambardella. "If the facility appears dirty and/or there is an unpleasant odor, then this may be a reflection on the level of care that is provided," Gambardella explains.
Finding the best possible care for your pets will assure you that you are doing your best to help them live long, healthy lives.
To find the best veterinarians near you, check out Pet Places >>