You've done your homework and chosen a vet with the right qualifications to handle your pet's needs. Now is the perfect time to go and checkout the hospital. Here's a bit about what you should look for during your 'interview' visit.
Choosing the Right Hospital for Your Pet
The best time to choose a new veterinary hospital to handle your pet's care is before you actually need to visit. Don't wait for an emergency to visit your new vet's office. If you have more than one vet on your list of possible candidates, take your time to learn more about each location and schedule a tour of each practice so that you know exactly what each hospital has to offer.
It's a hard thing to think about, but if your pet suddenly needs emergency care, it is important to be able to get to your vet's office quickly. Look for a veterinary office you like within an hour's drive of your home. That way, you will be able to get to your vet in a timely manner if an emergency strikes!
Services & Fees
Different veterinary hospitals offer different services at different fees, and sometimes even specialize in certain areas of medicine. Ask about each clinic's services and pay particular attention to the cost of services your pet will require most often. Many veterinary clinics offer Wellness Plans to help spread the cost of routine annual care across 12 easy payments. Find out if the clinics you are interested in offer Wellness Plans.
Schedule a Tour
You should be able to get a tour of the facility, especially if you call ahead. Understand that veterinary hospitals are busy places and an emergency case may turn up while you are there and take priority. Nonetheless, by booking ahead you allow the hospital to schedule a dedicated staff member to show you around and answer your questions.
What To Look For On Your hospital Tour
Is parking relatively easy?
Getting into and out of any vet's office can be a challenge if your pet isn't keen to go. Don't let parking add an extra level of complication to the task. Look for a hospital with plenty of free on-site parking.
Is the facility clean?
Take a good look around the waiting area, exam rooms, and the 'behind the scenes' areas too (if you can), does everything look clean?
Does the hospital have separate entrances and waiting areas for dogs and cats?
If your dog loves to chase cats, or your cat is terrified of dogs, having separate access to the hospital and waiting rooms for these pets can make a huge difference in making your appointments less stressful.
Do animals and people in the waiting area seem comfortable?
While you are there, other clients are bound to come and go. Do the people seem relaxed and 'happy' (under the circumstances)?
Are the staff members friendly, calm and attentive?
Knowing that you will see happy and courteous people when you take your pet to the hospital can make you feel more relaxed about each visit. Look for people chatting freely with the staff, and judge the overall 'feeling' of the space.
Are there emergency services available on-site?
Understanding where you can take your pet in an emergency is vital! Many vets will accommodate emergency visits, whereas others will refer you to a nearby emergency hospital. Take the time to find out the hospital's emergency policy.
Is there a diagnostic lab onsite?
When your pet requires x-rays, bloodwork, ultrasounds, etc. results are bound to come in faster if your vet's office has a lab onsite. If you have a pet that frequently requires testing of any kind, choosing a hospital with a lab may be the best choice for you.
What types of payment does the hospital accept?Knowing the cost of veterinary care, and how you are able to pay for it, is important to avoiding unpleasant surprises. Beyond the cost and payment for regular services, find out if the hospital offers payment plans for major surgeries and/or treatment for chronic conditions. If not, it may be wise to find out more about Wellness Plans and Pet Insurance to help take the stress out of paying for veterinary care.