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How Do You Find a Good Vet? We Asked a Top Vet!


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When it comes to our furry companions, finding the right vet is akin to finding a trusted family doctor. Whether you share your life with a cuddly canine or a purring feline, a therapy animal that brings you comfort, or an assistance animal that’s there to lend a helping paw, you want the best care for your beloved friend.

But where do you start the quest for that exceptional vet who’ll offer the right blend of expertise, compassion, and accessibility? We talked to Dr Cath Watson, Kiwi vet, Healthy Pets New Zealand Chair and a proud PD contributor about how to find the perfect medical care partner for your cherished animal.

Ask for recommendations

Seeking recommendations is a fantastic starting point when you’re on the hunt for a good vet.

So, where can you get these recommendations? Here are some top suggestions:

  1. Ask friends and family: Start by having a chat with your friends, family, and neighbours. They might have their own pets and can share their experiences with you. People you know can give you the inside scoop on local vets and share their honest opinions.
  2. Online communities: There are plenty of local online forums and social media groups where pet parents discuss their experiences with vets. Platforms like Facebook can be a goldmine for vet recommendations.
  3. Local pet shops: Your local pet shop is not just a place to buy food and toys; it’s also a hub for pet-loving communities. The staff there often have insights on good vets in your area and can point you in the right direction.
  4. Dog parks and walking groups: If you’re a dog owner, strike up conversations with fellow dog enthusiasts at the park or during group walks.
  5. Groomers and trainers: Cat and dog groomers often work closely with vets and can offer insights into the best local practices for your furry friend.
  6. Online reviews: Once you’ve gathered some recommendations, do some online research. Look up the vets’ websites and read reviews on platforms like Google or Yelp. This can give you a broader perspective on the quality of care they provide.

Find a vet that meets your requirements

The second thing to consider is whether your pet has any specific requirements.

“If you’ve got a cat, does the clinic have a specific cat waiting area?” Says Dr Watson. “If you’ve got rabbits or birds, do they treat those animals and do they have vets there who have expertise?”

Every animal is different and not every vet is able or willing to treat every species. Dr Watson also mentions that it’s important to realise New Zealand has a shortage of vets at the moment, so not every clinic will be taking on new clients.

Ask about their philosophy

“You also need to consider whether their philosophy matches yours,” says Dr Watson. “Do they support charities like Healthy Pets New Zealand, or the local rescues for instance?”

This is the step where you dig deeper into their approach to ensure it’s a good fit for you and your furry companion. Are their ethical standards in line with your own? You may want to see if you align on topics like responsible breeding, spaying/neutering, and the treatment of animals in their care.

A great vet should respect your choices and decisions for your pet – offering guidance without imposing their views.

A vet helping a cat. If you want to find a vet or the best vet near you, here's what to do.

Visit their clinic

Seeing their premises is another vital step. Start by giving them a call and scheduling a visit. This will give you a chance to see the clinic and meet the staff in person. It’s also a great opportunity to ask any burning questions you might have.

“Is it clean and well-maintained? Are the staff friendly and helpful? These are good signs,” says Dr Watson.

Visiting the clinic is a bit like taking a test drive. It’s a chance to get a feel for the place. Trust your instincts and make sure it’s a welcoming and well-equipped environment that aligns with your expectations.

The “best vet near me” has specialist connections

When you’re trying to find a vet, make sure they have connections to any specialists your pet may need.

Vets are like the family doctors for your pets, but just like in human medicine, there are specialists for more complex or specific issues. If your vet has a good network of specialists they work with, it means they can quickly refer your pet to an expert when needed.

“If they have good relationships with specialists it makes it easier for them to refer you quickly,” says Dr Watson.

Find a vet that provides for other pet needs

A vet who offers other pet necessities like food, toys, and treats can be a real convenience. Vets often stock products that they trust and recommend so you can count on the quality and suitability of the items on their shelves.

They can give you advice tailored to your pet’s specific needs. Whether it’s dietary recommendations or the best toys for your pet’s age and activity level, they’ve got you covered. Vets often stock pet food and treats that align with a pet’s health needs. This means you can find options that support your pet’s well-being, whether it’s a special diet or dental care treats.

A cat sleeping. If you want to find a vet or the best vet near you, here's what to do.

Get answers to all your questions

Here’s a handy list of questions to ask yourself (or the vet) in order to find someone who suits your needs:

  • Is the location suitable for you?
  • (Particularly if you’re living with mobility issues) Do they have the facilities to allow you to come and go with your pet and be with your pet to advocate for it?
  • Do the opening hours suit you?
  • What are the payment policies like?
  • Are you able to see the same vet every time or will you be seeing different vets? Is that something that you would prefer?

Dr Watson also advises to see what the vet’s communication style is when you speak to them: “Can you understand what they’re trying to tell you? Are they speaking in plain language and are they prepared to take the time to answer your questions?”

Play your part: be active once you find a vet

Finding a good vet is a two-way street. Your active participation is just as important as their expertise.

“Your relationship with your vet is a collaboration for your pet,” says Dr Watson. “You need to be patient, you need to turn up on time – and you absolutely need to advocate for your pet.”

Communication is key

Don’t be shy about asking questions. The more you know about your pet’s health and the vet’s recommendations, the better you can make informed decisions.

By actively participating in your pet’s care and being a responsible pet parent, you’re not only helping your vet do their job but also ensuring your pet leads a healthy and happy life. It’s a team effort, and your furry friend will surely appreciate it!

“Finding a good vet is as much about the relationship that you choose to make with that vet as well,” says Dr Watson. The ‘best vet near me’ is the vet that’s qualified, ethical, and open to communicating.

A vet and a volunteer helping a dog. If you want to find a vet or the best vet near you, here's what to do.

Read more on vets

Our blog covers all things pets, including the vet side of the equation. Here are just three of our articles about vet visits:

Find a vet that recommends value-rich insurance

PD is the award winning pet insurance recommended by many NZ vets. Once you find a vet, you’ll want to know you have enough funds to cover their professional services. With pet insurance, non-routine vet visits, hospital care, medication, third party liability cover and so much more are part of the plan.

Not convinced? Find out everything about pet plan shopping in NZ to be sure and get a quote by clicking below.

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