One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a pet owner is finding a quality health care provider for your pet.
People seek out new vets for a variety of reasons, including a recent adoption or move, concerns about a current vet’s quality of care or treatment for a pet’s specific health problem. In this article we share tips for choosing the right vet for your furry companion; one that has professional competency as well as a true desire to provide you and your pet the care, compassion and understanding that you deserve.
How do I decide which vet is best for my pet?
Know your pet’s needs
Before you start visiting veterinary practices and asking questions, make a list of priorities for you and your pet. This will help you ask the right questions as you narrow down your options.
Checklist of veterinarian must-haves:
- Up-to-date facilities and cutting edge medical technologies and care.
- A commitment to gentle handling techniques to reduce the stress of visits
- Veterinarians should work with a team of professionals, including technicians and qualified support staff.
- Hours to suit your work schedule, proximity to your home, and pricing.
- Generous appointment times – there’s nothing worse than feeling rushed at the vet.
- Support for area pet rescue organizations (a good vet must be invested in the local animal welfare community).
- Smaller practice – a place where you know you can see the same vet on every visit and develop a friendly relationship with the staff. Many larger veterinary hospitals offer incredible care (and greater flexibility in scheduling), so it really comes down to personal preference.
Ask for recommendations
It’s also a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends, family and trusted neighbors-especially those who take a keen interest in their dogs’ health and well-being. Remember to ask about more than just the veterinarian. Get insight into staff members, rates, and location.
Schedule a tour
Once you’ve found one or two potential vets, plan a facility visit without your pet to get a feel for the place itself. Any reputable veterinary practice will be more than happy to show you around and make you feel welcome. Your tour may be conducted by a staff associate or vet tech, but you should also be able to meet with at least one veterinarian on staff.
Here’s a checklist of things to look for when visiting a veterinary facility:
- Is the facility licenced?
Every individual in the animal health profession in Kenya must be registered with the Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) every year to be allowed to practice.
- Is it easy to get to from your home, and is parking relatively easy?
- Is the facility clean, both in the lobby/waiting area and exam rooms? You should also ask to see the “behind-the-scenes” facilities; you may or may not be able to tour the hospital, depending on what’s going on that day, but most good vets value transparency and will show you as much as they can.
- Are there separate waiting areas for dogs and cats?
- Do animals and people in the waiting area and hospital seem comfortable (keep in mind a lot of pets are nervous at the vet, so they don’t have to seem “happy,” just comfortable and safe)
- Is the staff caring, calm, and courteous?
Ask the right questions
When you visit a veterinarian’s office for the first time, in addition to getting a feel of the facility, you should ask plenty of questions to give you a full picture of their practice. You may write down a few specific questions based on your list of priorities, and you should also ask the following questions:
- Is the facility licenced – Every individual in the animal health profession in Kenya must be registered with the Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) every year to be allowed to practice.
- Emergencies – Which emergency services are available on-site, and to what facility will you be referred if emergency appointments are not available?
- Telephone Policy – They should have educated staff available to answer your questions over the phone. You should always be able to leave the veterinarian a message to call you back.
- Tests – Are diagnostic tests like X-rays, bloodwork, ultrasounds, etc. done in-house or referred offsite?
- Admissions – How are overnight patients monitored?
- Payment and Insurance – What types of payment does the practice accept? Do they offer payment plans for major surgeries and/or treatment for chronic conditions?
- Animal Welfare – Does the practice support any local animal welfare organizations (this may or may not be important to you, but in general, a vet who actively engages in the local animal welfare community is one who has pets’ best interests at heart!)
Your in-person visit should leave you feeling positive about the clinic and staff, and hopefully you’ll have a good rapport with the veterinarian. You should feel comfortable asking questions, and the vet should listen thoughtfully and offer clear, direct explanations.
Once you find a good vet, be a good client!
Keeping your pet healthy is very important. But your veterinarian can’t do it alone. It’s up to you to work in partnership with your veterinarian to give your pet the care he/she needs to live a healthier, happy life. Keep in mind these steps to being a good veterinary client:
- Show up a little early (but not too early) for appointments to allow time for any necessary paperwork.
- Be an advocate for your pet, but know when to step back and let the vet take over. This can be a tough sometimes but it’s important to remember that one of you went to vet school!
- If you have a question, ask. If you want a second opinion, request a referral. Remember, communication is key.
- Be patient, and remember, animals can be unpredictable. A good veterinary practice will respect their clients’ time, and stick as close to the appointment schedule as possible. A good veterinary client, on the other hand, will remember that in any medical practice, there is the potential for high stress, and emergency situations may take precedence over routine appointments.
Now that you have read the guide for finding a good vet use the directory on our website to find vets near you and start your search!
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