Dear DeDe on How to Choose a Vet

Dear DeDe here two days in a row!  How cool is that!  Well Rumpy and I decided that this would make a great topic to write about… and since I’m the advice giver, I got to write it!  YAY!!!!!

So you want to know how to choose a vet?  Well, I have been on the case and I have some info for you!

from Jr. Vet – A Fun Animal Game by Curiosoft

I asked my vet about what he would recommend to someone who was looking for a vet.  Because I don’t have his permission to do so, I’ve not named our vet, but their operation is awesome and Jen is very pleased.

 He said the first place he suggests you begin is the American Animal Hospital Association.   The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is the only organization that accredits small animal hospitals throughout the U.S. & Canada. AAHA-accredited hospitals adhere to the highest quality standards, which helps ensure the best care for your pet.  In order to become a member you have the understand and follow standards in all areas of your hospital.  Those include customer service, surgery, radiology, quarantine, patient care, continuing education, communication and a variety of other areas.

Their pet owner only website is  I checked it out and it a great source of information on a variety of topics, including caring for dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, and reptiles.  There’s also a section on dealing with grief after losing a pet.

Our vet went on to tell me that the typical owner could not and would not know all the questions to insure that their beloved friend is being cared for in a way that meets all the above listed standard of care.  So for those of you who do not live in the US or Canada, check with your area for accreditation organizations that set standards of care for veterinary medicine.

The next thing  our vet said was that he would encourage an owner to call the hospital and see how warm the team is over the phone.  If the staff seems warm and compassionate, then ask for a tour and if possible an interview with the doctor.  This is a good way for the new client to make sure that the core values and personalities are compatible.


I’d like to add here how important it is to have a vet with staff you can work with.  If the vet or his staff don’t treat you or your pet in the manner you expect, find another vet.  Remember, your beloved animal cannot speak for himself, so you need to be able to trust the vet and staff to act in the best interest of your loved one, especially if your pet needs to remain hospitalized.

One other thing that our vet says (and I would agree) is that you don’t want to put your trust solely in internet recommendations.  Most of the venom and poor opinions exist due to the client not openly communicating with the hospital or the doctor.  I would add that it’s really easy for an office to post lots of positive recommendations, so unless you know the person who is giving the recommendation it’s a good idea to also do your own investigative work.


Yet another factor we suggest you consider is the adage that you get what you pay for.  This is particularly true with better paid staff—receptionists, out patient nurses, licensed veterinary medical technicians and boarding staff.  One of the easiest standards to understand would be in the realm of surgery. The things that are important are:

  • Does the doctor scrub and wear a gown and cap for each surgery?
  • Does a new sterile pack get used for each surgery?
  • Does the hospital offer laser surgery?
  • Is there both electronic AND a licensed nurse monitoring the patients before and during surgery as well as in recovery until they can sit sternally?
  • Does the hospital use a name brand suture?
  • Is the patient placed on a circulating warm water blanket to maintain body temperature?
  • Is the patient entubated (plastic tube down windpipe) to maintain the airway during surgery?
  • Does the hospital use pre- and post-surgery pain medication coupled with meds to go home after surgery?
  • Does the hospital use inhaled gas anesthesia to maintain anesthesia (this is the safest way to keep a patient asleep)?
  • Does the patient receive IV fluid to maintain blood pressure and provide access to a vessel if needed?
  • Does the patient have mulimodal pain relief(this means using a local block plus a non steroid antiinflamatory drug, and a narcotic)?

All of these forementioned things are why one surgery might cost 85 dollars at one hospital and 200 dollars at another hospital, so you get what you pay for.  If you’re not sure, ask what services are provided.

I would also suggest that any time more than routine care is required, ask for a written estimate of costs for the recommended care.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask if some services can be delayed for a few days, especially if you are low on funds.  Clearly communicate with the vet so that she can obtain the info she needs to treat your pet.  Our vet does this as a matter of practice, but if your vet doesn’t, speak up and ask for it.

And here is one other recommendation we learned the hard way:  If you are not finding answers with your vet, don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion.  Jen took me to see other vets before coming to our current vet.  Though the prior vets were educated and experienced, they were unable to correctly diagnose my problems.  It doesn’t mean they weren’t good vets- they were.  It just meant we needed to keep looking for an answer.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it does give you some good advice on what kinds of things to look for.

by Jamiecreates1 at

30 thoughts on “Dear DeDe on How to Choose a Vet

  1. Hi, Dear DeDe! Thanks for your information about how to choose a vet! It encouraged my mom alot because she hasn’t found trusted vet yet. Of course, we go to vet regularly to get some treatments , but my mom is still not sure if the vet is trustable. We’ve changed our vet several times but most of vets here seem to be very arrogant and they don’t like that we, patients interfere in their treatments. For example even if we’d like to say something, we are worried about if the vet is disturbed by what we say and doesn’t treat us carefully. My brofur Shiro has a wire inside his jaw and has to take it off in near future, but we are not sure if we go to the same vet who had the operation on his jaw…
    What DeDe told us are very practical! Woo woo!!! 🙂

    1. I think you should see the vet that put the wire in to take it out. Vets are familiar with their own work so it’s easiest for them to respond to their own work.

      1. Hmmm…you are right, Rumpy. Mom might want to take Shiro to the vet who fixed his jaw with the wire. Thanks for your advice, Rumpy!!! Woo woo. 🙂

  2. Good advice DeDe! We especially like the question list…
    We are lucky to have a wonderful vet who did everything he could for Milly before she went to the Bridge… they even helped with insurance and financial issues and the staff are lovely.

  3. Thats good advice. I am a big believer in having an everyday vet for bloodwork and things, and then seeing specialists if anything goes wrong. A good vet wont mind if you see a specialist. Also I like to do some of my own research, the whole dog journal and dog aware are great resource for any illnesses

  4. Excellent article DeDe. We are very fortunate in that we have a wonderful vet who has been taking care of our furr friends for almost 20 years. He’s kind, compassionate, gentle and honest…he makes trips to the vet much less scary for all of us.

  5. Great advice and reference information. I would also suggest asking the vet’s office for client recommendations.

    I had a vet I loved for Sampson but when Delilah joined our family and needed to be spayed the vet (on the phone to me) called her a “behemoth” then when I took her in for follow-up she called her “the spay from hell.”

    That was the last time we used that vet.

  6. Oh my dog, this is a lovely blog – I’d even come back to it if I hadn’t two gods and three tacs with tics 😉
    I once asked our vet how he makes animals calm down; even our hypersensitive, “explosive” cat lets him administer medicine (when I tried, she’s off before I even get close to her). He said “How you feel, the animals will feel. They sense your vibrations. When you are nervous, they’ll be nervous. When you are happy, they are.” That’s how I found out why he sings silly little songs to the animals during examination “Oh my kitty cat, you’re such a beauty, cat,…”
    It works! 😀

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