Finding a good vet isn't always easy. Our cats are all rescues with numerous medical issues so we need one that can handle their chronic problems. So here is how we conduct a new vet tour to see the facilities, get our questions answered and find out who is on the other side of the exam door.
First Impressions Count
After choosing at least three vets to visit, we arrive for the tour and assessment.
- The Greeting: How were you greeted? The atmosphere and reception should feel professional and organized. If possible, arrive a little early for your appointment so you have time to observe. The clinic should be busy; the receptionists should be attentive to clients both on the phone and in person.
- Signs of Satisfaction: Look around the reception space. Are there thank you cards posted or photos of pets? If so, read through some albums or bulletin boards. If you sit next to another client, ask them how long they've been with this vet and if they're satisfied.
- Clinic Philosophy: Look for brochures, awards, newspaper clippings and information bulletins. What are they about? Do you share their concern for these issues? For instance, our current vet posts information on how de-clawing is harmful to cats and also has a bulletin board explaining recent bylaws that do not support animal rights with petitions available to sign.
Clinic Mascots: The biggest thing I look for when choosing a new vet is the presence of "clinic mascots". Our current vet has two rescued parrots and two cats. A vet that rescues unwanted animals, providing them with a home and medical help says a lot about their practice. I usually ask directly if they have any clinic animals, then ask how the animals came to be there. If a clinic doesn't have any animals, then I usually ask why. Again for me, this can be the deciding point on whether or not I keep them on my list.
The Clinic Tour
These are some of the questions and observations I make while taking a look around:
- Are the facilities clean?
- Ask to see the boarding areas. Are the kennels clean and do the animals have water and a bed to sleep in?
- Is their equipment up-to-date? You can ask them directly what kind of new technologies they've incorporated into their practice even if you don't know anything about veterinary medicine. They should be able to tell you how up-to-date they are or if they're planning on expanding services.
- How many surgery beds do they have? While you may not think this is important, if your pet requires emergency surgery it's good to know they can provide care. Ask about this kind of service and how busy their operating table is.
- Ask how they handle difficult animals? This is important if you have a pet that is highly stressed or aggressive when in a vet's care.
- Ask to see their quarantine area or ICU. If there are any staff present in this area, note if they are following strict procedures. This is critical if any of your pets are immune-compromised. You don't want to leave your pets for any length of time in a clinic that doesn't follow proper procedures. Infectious diseases can easily be transmitted on shoes, hands or clothing from one cage to another.
- Ask how busy they are and how difficult it is to get an appointment. Find out if they're willing to squeeze in patients that are in need.
- And make sure you go through all the possible questions to ask.