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When a new pet joins your family, one of the first things you should do is select a veterinary hospital. You don’t want just any veterinary hospital, though—you’ll want to seek out the hospital that best matches your needs. Choosing a veterinary hospital that you and your pet are comfortable with is important as this will hopefully be a life-long, long-term relationship. If you’re having trouble finding a hospital, here are some things to consider while searching.

Chances are you’re not the only one in your social circle with a pet. One of the best ways to decide on a veterinary hospital is to ask your friends and family for recommendations. You could also reach out to co-workers and neighbors to learn where their pets receive care and why specific facilities were chosen. 

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Accreditation
Unlike most human hospitals, the majority of veterinary hospitals are not accredited. Only between 12-15% of small animal veterinary practices are AAHA accredited in the US and Canada. Visiting an AAHA accredited veterinary hospital ensures that your pet is receiving high quality care. To find an AAHA accredited veterinary hospital in your area, visit this link.

Philosophy and Values
When choosing a hospital, ask questions about the hospital’s values.  Does the hospital offer procedures such as declawing for cats?  This procedure involves removing a segment of the bone attached to the claw and many in the veterinary profession consider it barbaric and inhumane.  In fact, the procedure is illegal in Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in Europe. Does the hospital support the non-profit animal welfare organizations in its community? How does the hospital approach the factors surrounding euthanisia?

Level of Comfort
Both you and your pet should be comfortable with the type and level of care provided. There’s no reason that you should feel the need to hide anything from them about your pet’s health and well-being. Initial uncertainty is common with some pets but if your pet shows any signs of anger, fear, or distress toward the veterinarian or support staff, you should learn more about the pet’s experience and what might be causing them to react this way.  

Quality veterinary care can be expensive. It is important to ask questions about the care your pet needs, the different options for treatment when your pet is sick or injured and the associated costs. While cost should not be the sole reason you choose your veterinary hospital, it may be important to consider.  

Support Staff
Not all veterinary hospitals have licensed or registered veterinary technicians which may come as a surprise. Research the veterinary hospital staff before making your decision. The website for your state board of veterinary medicine can be an excellent resource to learn more. 

Ownership of Veterinary Hospital
Consider your preferences and whether a local, privately owned hospital or a corporate practice is important to you. There are differences between the two business models.  One is a small business owned by a veterinarian or partnership of veterinarians and the other is owned by investors.

An Important Decision
Using these and other factors in selecting the best veterinary care practice for you and your pet can add peace of mind for both of you. Your decision might even add to the quality time you and your beloved pet have to spend together.

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