Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Written by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Nov 11, 2020

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As pet parents, we know the importance of keeping up with our vet visits.

After all, we want our pets to live a long, happy and healthy life.

When we take our pets to the vet, we like knowing that they are giving us the best advice and we’re comfortable with the vet’s knowledge and the vet clinic.

But, what if you move to a new area? Or you are unhappy with your current vet?

We have some tips to help you gauge not only what to look for in your new vet, but also the vet clinic.

Need Pet Insurance?

FACT: Pet insurance pays up to 90% of vet bills when your pet is sick or injured!

What Type Of Vet Should You Look For

Veterinarians are doctors that have medical degrees in veterinary science.

While some veterinarians have a broader understanding of all animals, others specialize in different kinds of animals.

For example, some veterinarians specialize in only dogs, cats, and hamsters while others specialize in farm animals such as horses, cows, and even goats.

If you have a dog or a cat, then at least make sure that your vet has a broad understanding of them.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

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Small Clinic vs. Animal Hospital

While both have great vets, maybe you want a smaller clinic that has a more intimate atmosphere.

Or maybe you prefer a big hospital that you can go to after hours in an emergency.

Maybe the location is the most important to you.

Vet Clinics Near You

As with any new service, friends, neighbors or colleagues are a great place to start looking for a veterinarian.

If you see your neighbor with a dog or cat, you can ask them if they have a vet they like.

Do you take your dog to the dog park?

If so, ask the other dog owner’s where they take their dogs and if they are happy with their service and the location.

Take a look at the different review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List or even do a google search where you can find different reviews on the animal hospitals or the specific vet you had in mind.

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


A happy energetic Luna one morning couldn’t hold her food down. After months of multiple costly vet visits to specialists and an endoscopy, the problem was discovered and fixed. Luna put 22 pounds back on in no time and her parents were grateful for having PetFirst by their side to pay the bills.

What To Look For In A New Vet Clinic

Now that you have some names of vets near you, there are other questions to consider.

Does the clinic have an AAHA accreditation?

In choosing a veterinary clinic or hospital, it’s always preferable that the hospital has been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Veterinary hospitals that have this accreditation have been able to pass various tests and meet at least these standards.

There are almost 900 different areas that need to be met and therefore if your vet hospital has that accreditation, you know they are above par.

To be AAHA accredited, the hospital must demonstrate to the AAHA that they offer the highest care for the pets that visit the clinic and that all the methods they use are safe.

An AAHA accreditation is not a necessity, but always a plus to look for in your search of the vets near you.

Is the Animal Clinic clean and appealing?

Make sure to get a tour of the facility to see if it’s clean and you can also get an overall feeling of the atmosphere.

You should ask the staff about how often the cleaning crew comes by and how often the exam rooms are cleaned.

Of course, if the clinic looks sparkling clean, there’s your answer.

The last thing you want is your dog or cat to come home sick or infected from a less than a sterile environment.

In fact, do they separate the dogs and cats to keep the sick pets away from the healthy ones?

If the staff gets offended by any of these questions, then you should move on to the next clinic!

Is the vet staff friendly and helpful?

When you visit a vet’s office, you want to make sure that the staff is friendly and helpful.

After all, you will be dealing with the staff more often than the veterinarian.

Can the staff answer all your questions in a friendly manner?

Are they knowledgeable?

Do they make their clients wait a long time to see the vet?

You can even ask some of the clients in the waiting room to share their thoughts on the vet clinic.

Meet With The Veterinarian

You should schedule a first “get-to-know” meeting with your new veterinarian just to get acquainted.

The last thing you want to do is wait until your pet gets sick or hurt and you need a veterinarian right away.

This first meet will allow you to see if the vet’s demeanor is a good fit for you and you can also ask him or her questions about your specific pet.

This meeting will allow you to see if the new vet can communicate well and in a manner that is friendly and knowledgeable.

You might even bring your dog or cat with you to see how your vet handles your furry family member.

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


Artemis was a beautiful and friendly cat to all who were willing to pet him. Unfortunately, he developed feline diabetes which required regular vet visits and medications that his Mother could not otherwise afford on her fixed income. Having PetFirst insurance, she called and discussed the problem with a friendly PetFirst agent. To her surprise, she found out that Artemis’ ongoing required vet visits and medication would be covered by his PetFirst insurance. Artemis was able to live out the rest of his life with proper medical care and medicines thanks to PetFirst insurance.

Have a list of questions ready of what is important to you.

Some questions to consider:

  1. Can you make an appointment with a specific veterinarian of your choice?
  2.  Do they have a large network of specialists if your dog or cat needs that type of care?
  3.  What is their telephone policy?  Can you call after hours?
  4.  How long does it take the veterinarian to get back to you with test results or just questions?
  5.  Are you able to go there in an emergency?  Or if there is an after-hours emergency, can they arrange for you to go to a nearby animal hospital?

If you are satisfied with their answers, you can now move on to some other important issues.

Payment Options

Another important factor to consider is the payment options or plans.

For example, if your pet needs emergency surgery, do you need to pay the entire bill upfront or can you make partial payments.

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Pet Insurance for Vet Bills

If you have pet insurance, you want to make sure the veterinary clinic accepts your pet insurance.

For the newly initiated, pet insurance is a great way to save money on vet bills if your dog or cat gets sick, injured or develops a new condition.

A pet insurance plan can save you up to 90% of your bill and is a great relief when that day comes and your dog or cat does need emergency surgery.

If you have a dog or cat that is a certain breed that is pre-disposed to a hereditary condition, pet insurance is a definite plus.

For example, Labradors are known to have issues with their hips, hip dysplasia, and pet insurance can help provide any care related to those issues as long as they aren’t pre-existing.

Pet insurance does not cover routine annual vet visits unless you have a wellness plan.

Again, if you purchased a wellness plan, make sure your new vet clinic accepts that plan.

Our primer on how pet insurance works can give you a quick insight into what to look for in a pet insurance plan.

The First Vet  Appointment

If you are satisfied with all your questions being answered, the next step would be to schedule an appointment.

When you do schedule an appointment, can you see the vet in an acceptable time frame?

Once you are finally with your new veterinarian, make sure to sit in the room and watch to make sure your vet does a thorough exam of your pet.

Your vet should examine all the body parts of your dog or cat from the mouth and teeth and throughout your pets’ body.

They should be checking for anything that doesn’t look normal, take your pet’s temperature, weight and check their heart rate.

Need Pet Insurance?

FACT: Pet insurance pays up to 90% of vet bills when your pet is sick or injured!

How Often Should You Take Your Pet To The Vet?

If your dog or cat is in good health, one thorough vet exam each year should be sufficient.

As our pets age, they might need to see the vet more often but, of course, it depends on the health of your pet.

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When It’s Important To Take Your Pet To The Vet Immediately

  • Your dog or cat has not eaten for a day or so and seems depressed or lethargic.
  • Your dog or cat is acting differently or you notice anything on their skin or in their mouth.
  • Your dog or cat seems in pain.
  • Your pet’s daily poop habits have changed.  If they have diarrhea for more than a day, take your dog or cat to the vet immediately to avoid dehydration.
  • You think your dog or cat has ingested anything poisonous or toxic or swallowed something they shouldn’t.

As we all know, it’s better to be safe and if anything unusual is happening with your pet, take them to the vet or at least give your vet a call.

Summing Up Finding A Vet Near You

We all have different thoughts on what we are seeking in a veterinarian.

The most important is that you are comfortable with your veterinarian and that he or she is knowledgeable enough to take care of your pet for routine visits and/or emergency care.

If you can’t find a vet through all the various resources, both the AVMA and the AAHA might be able to help.

If pet insurance is of interest to you, make sure to take a look at our list of the best pet insurance of 2019 to get started!