2938 Vet. Med. Basic Sciences Bldg.
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
By Kimberly Meenen
University of Illinois
College of Veterinary Medicine
Many pet owners select a veterinarian based only on proximity, says Dr. Sue Hall, community practice veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana. Although proximity is important, there are additional factors to consider.
"Choosing a veterinarian for your pet is as important as choosing a physician for your own health care," says Dr. Hall. It's important to find a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about the type of pet you have, especially if you own an exotic animal like a ferret, fish or snake.
"Your veterinarian should be someone who makes you feel comfortable," she says. "This person should be someone you can develop a personal client/veterinarian relationship with. Your veterinarian should take time to answer your questions about your pet and its health."
Veterinary services should also be considered. Determine which services are most important to you such as emergency care, grooming, boarding or extended hours. Cost is another big factor to many pet owners.
How do you find this individual? Dr. Hall suggests that pet owners ask their neighbors or co-workers about their veterinarians. Ask them who they would recommend and why. Local dog and cat clubs, breeders, or pet shops may also be good sources of information.
Dr. Hall says another way to locate a veterinarian is to "phone shop." Veterinarians are usually listed in the "Yellow Pages" of a phone book. Call around to your local veterinary clinics and ask them about their staff, services, fees, and hours.
After you've narrowed down your choices, it's time to visit the clinics which interest you. She recommends that you ask for a tour of the facilities, but make sure you call ahead. If they are not too busy, most clinics will give you a tour and introduce you to the veterinarians on staff.
What should you look for? Look for a clean, well-organized facility. "A hospital should not only be clean to the eye, but to the nose as well," says Dr. Hall. "A clinic should smell clean." The veterinary technicians, the receptionist and other staff members should be friendly and professional. She notes that usually the staff reflects the quality of the clinic.
This is a good time to find out approximately what a veterinarian will charge for his or her services. This gives the owner a chance to decide whether the cost is too high. Ask the veterinarian in advance what billing procedures are followed when charging a client.
Remember that routine veterinary examinations and vaccinations
are a form of insurance to prevent your pet from encountering
avoidable health problems. It's always a good idea to find a veterinarian
that you are satisfied with and trust before your pet needs emergency