ORLANDO, Fla. – Pets are members of the family, so when it comes to their medical care, of course we want the best for them.
So the big question is, how can you go about finding the best veterinarian for your pet that won’t break the bank? There’s a lot to consider here.
First, anytime you can get a referral from a trusted friend, family member or neighbor, it’s a good idea. Next, convenience is a consideration -- what are the office hours and location?
After that, the considerations are a lot more personal. Here are some things to ask yourself before making the decision:
Does the vet listen to you and answer your questions?
Are they patient when explaining things to you, and are they compassionate?
Do they fully explain diagnoses and options, or do they push you to the most expensive option?
Are they available in an emergency or have facilities nearby to refer you to for after-hours emergencies?
Will they give you a hard time if you want to get a second opinion?
Do they take pet insurance or offer pet credit/payment plans?
Do they have boarding facilities?
As far as cost goes, sometimes you do need to shop around. News 6 compared the costs of veterinary care for basic procedures in the past and found costs can vary from clinic to clinic. You can check that story out here. The variation in prices has to do with the fact that these clinics are small businesses and are allowed to charge what they want.
Since that's the case, you can and should always ask for an itemized estimate before any treatment is completed. Go over that list and make sure to ask for explanations of anything you don’t understand. Sometimes there are up-charges you can really do without.
Experts tell News 6 that usually, veterinarians present plan A, which is what they consider to be the most effective treatment. It can also sometimes be expensive. There are often alternative methods of treatment, so make sure you ask for all the options and all of the costs associated with those treatments so you can do your research and be educated enough to make the best possible decision for you and your pet.
Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Your animal’s chart and related medical information are yours — and a veterinarian should give you copies if you ask for them. You are absolutely allowed to take them elsewhere for a second opinion -- you paid for the services, the results are yours.
If an expensive route is the way to go, check to see if they offer payment plans. Many veterinarians work with plans like CareCredit to help finance veterinary care.
Finally, you can always check up on your vet with the Department of Business and Professional Regulations, which issues licenses. You can check to be sure your vet is properly licensed and check for complaints here. You can also check out the Department of Agriculture for veterinarian information here.