Veterinary Care: Primary

The Family Vet - your go-to doc


Looking for a veterinarian? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: you’ll f ind an endless array of excellent choices. The bad news: you’ll f ind an endless array of excellent choices.

With so many options, you’ll need some criteria to narrow your search, and for that, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s advice is simple and practical.

When to choose a veterinarian

Find one before you need one. If you’re relocating to a new city or neighborhood, ask your current vet if she knows veterinarians in your new location. Vets often have colleagues or former classmates that they can recommend.

If you’re in the process of adopting a new pet, it’s a good idea to have a veterinarian lined up before your newcomer arrives.

Like a family doctor, most days, a primary care veterinarian is all you need. Your primary or family veterinarian provides maintenance health care such as vaccines and regular check-ups, and is also your first stop for any new illness or concern. If your pet has an advanced medical condition requiring orthopedic, dermatology, cardiology, or other specialized care, you’ll want to find a specialist in addition to your primary doctor. Even when your pet is in excellent health, know where emergency and after-hours care is offered nearby.

Choosing a Primary Care Veterinarian

Think of the steps you take when you choose your own doctor or dentist. You consider location, hours, payment options, and range of services. Use the same checklist for choosing a veterinarian, and then visit or call to find out:

•    How does the environment feel? The AVMA says it’s important to establish a comfortable rapport with your veterinarian and clinic staff. Does everyone feel friendly and approachable?

•    What types of care are offered? Are you looking for anything in addition to primary care, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, or other holistic or alternative treatments?


•    Are boarding and/or grooming services offered?

•    Are weekend or evening appointments available?

•    If you have pets other than dogs or cats, how experienced are the doctors in treating exotic or non-traditional pets?

•    Can you request a specific veterinarian when scheduling appointments?

•    How do the staff and doctor interact with your pet? Do they put you and your pet at ease?

•    Does the clinic offer emergency and after-hours care? If not, do they recommend and work with a nearby emergency clinic?


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