Choosing the right veterinarian may be difficult for owners, as it involves a multi-factorial approach, said Harriet Meyers of the American Kennel Club, a recognized and trusted expert in providing information about dogs. As an owner, you will have to consider your pet’s age, its underlying medical conditions, or medical history such as previous surgeries and injuries. Your dog or cat may also benefit from a veterinarian with specialty training, with state-of-the art equipment or facility, or even a professional that offers special services.
Familiarity and Use of Veterinary Care Among US Resident Dog and Cat Owners (2020)
Courtney Bir and colleagues of MDPI, a publisher of peer-reviewed, open access journals, found that 63% of 997 respondents own a pet, 9% do not own a pet but had one in the last five years, and 8% said they plan to have one in the next five years. Respondents said they currently own or owned a dog (505 respondents) or a cat (367 respondents). 88% of cat owners and 90% of dog owners indicated they were the primary caregiver of their pets. The common acquisition methods for both dogs and cats were through purchase or adoption/rescue.
More dogs (40%) were purchased compared to cats (17%). Meanwhile, fewer dogs (55%) were adopted unlike cats (72%). Both dog (49%) and cat (44%) owners said they had an annual veterinary visit for preventative health. 9% of dog and cat owners said they subscribe or follow on social media veterinary health experts or sources. 16% of dog owners reported participating in formal obedience classes with their dogs. Among cat owners, 36% said they did not participate in any of the actions presented, which was higher for dog owners (16%).
Regarding the frequency of seeking veterinary care for the respondents’ pets, 2% of dog and 7% of cat owners answered never. 15% of dog owners said they seek care during emergencies, which was higher for cat owners (28%). 46% of dog owners and 43% of cat owners said once a year compared to those who seek care more than once a year (35% and 20%). Both dog and cat owners (3%) said they don’t know.
When asked about the types of practices/service providers used for their pets, the owners mentioned low-cost spay/neuter clinic (32% of dog owners and 39% of cat owners), low-cost vaccination clinic (28% for both dog and cat owners), veterinarian/clinic/practice of any kind (69% and 59%), and emergency veterinary clinic (24% and 15%).
Meanwhile, convenience hindered dog (19%) and cat (18%) owners from veterinary care, followed by proximity to veterinarian (12% for both dog and cat owners), price/cost (40% and 42%), animal behavior (11% and 8%), pet stress (9% and 12%), and unreliable transportation (2%). Both dog and cat owners (26%) said they did not seek veterinary care because their pet did not get sick or injured.
Moreover, 41% of dog and 34% of cat owners chose regular veterinarian/clinic due to the veterinarian’s knowledge, followed by quality of care (52% and 49%), location of the clinic (62% and 60%), and pricing (38% and 42%). Other reasons cited by the owners were availability of payment plans (15% and 13%), convenience of hours (23% and 17%), multi-pet discount (5% and 4%), and referred by a friend or acquaintance (18% and 13%). The authors recommended future research to tackle livestock veterinary use considering the difference of veterinary care between species, emphasizing the need to employ different approaches. Pet ownership and livestock ownership are different, with livestock animals being an important part of the veterinary industry.
How Do I Choose the Right Vet for My Pet?
1. Get Recommendations and Referrals
Talk to your neighbors, loved ones, and friends. Find out which veterinary clinic they are willing to recommend. You can also talk to breeders or breed club members as they might know veterinarians who are knowledgeable about your pet’s breeds and the types of problems they experience. Managers of local shelters, groomers, and local dog trainers could aid in your search, but you can consider consulting state and local veterinary societies to help you find a reputable veterinarian.
2. Consider the Location, Fees, and Opening Hours
Veterinarians are required to make arrangements for their clients’ pets to receive emergency treatment outside their opening hours. It may not take place at their own practice if they don’t have the facilities so it is recommended to ask your veterinarian about it, said animal charity Blue Cross. Proximity should also be considered when choosing a veterinary clinic. You can get your pet treated without delay if there’s an emergency, for instance. Consider asking yourself if the clinic is near any public transport links or a car park or a public parking nearby if you drive. Don’t forget to compare charges and avoid deals that appear too good to be true.
Therefore, it is best to consult the vet prior to the appointment about fees, costs of procedures, and the methods of payment available and expected in the clinic. Prices may also vary depending on the location, the clinic’s facilities, and its overheads. Staff should provide you with a price quote for routine treatments and don’t hesitate to ask what’s included in the quote. If your pet has to undergo surgery, ask the vet if there will be additional charges for post-op check-ups.
3. Ask If the Vet Offers Extra Services
Some do provide extra services such as puppy training and obedience classes and your pet may benefit from them. Many veterinary clinics offer advice and fact sheets on how to take care of your pet. Consider checking the local practice’s website if you want to see what other services it offers.
4. Check the Vet’s Professional Accreditations and Experience
How many veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians are in the clinic? How long have they worked in the field? How about their education and training background? Check if they are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or any veterinary body or organization.
5. Find Out How the Clinic Treats the Animals
Do the staff treat pets sympathetically? Do they seem genuinely interested in treating pets? Veterinary staff may muzzle or restrain your pet, but it does not mean they should handle it roughly. Moreover, are you well-informed with what is going on with your pet’s treatment? When you have to give treatment to your pet, are you given clear and succinct information about the process?
Owners need to weigh a lot of factors when choosing the right veterinarian. Owners have to be wary of fraudulent deals or clinics that handle animals roughly. They should not hesitate to ask questions to prevent misunderstandings and clarify unclear information. Overall, the right veterinarian will ensure the welfare of both the pet and the client.