Choosing the right vet practice
There are so many vet practices to choose from it’s difficult to know which one to pick. But it’s worth doing a bit of homework to make sure that both you and your pet are happy with your choice.
How to choose the right vet practice for you and your pet
Find a registered vet
It’s illegal for anyone who isn’t registered to practice as a vet. The body responsible for this is the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Qualified vets will have the initials MRCVS or FRCVS after their name. You can check if your vet is registered on the RCVS website.
The RCVS also has a voluntary Practice Standards Scheme which accredits vet practices according to the services and specialties they offer. They are rigorously inspected every four years and may also have spot checks in between. You can tell whether a practice is accredited because it will display the RCVS Accredited Practice logo. You can find your nearest vet practice on the RCVS website.
Recommendations can be a really useful way of finding a vet. Find out what other pet owners in your area think about their vet – but consider whether they have the same type of animal as you because different pets have different requirements.
It’s a good idea to choose a practice close to your home. Not only is it convenient, if there’s an emergency it’s good to know that you can get your pet to the vet as soon as possible because quick treatment could save their life. Think about where the practice is located, if it’s near any public transport links or, if you drive, does it have a car park or is there public parking nearby?
All vets have to make arrangements for their clients’ pets to receive emergency treatment outside normal hours – although it may not actually be at their own practice if they don’t have the facilities so it’s worth asking about this. You and your pet may be sent somewhere further afield. If you work long hours you might want to check if the practice is open on weekday evenings or at the weekend.
If your pet needs an overnight stay at the practice, ask whether there’ll be a member of staff on site monitoring them continuously.
All animal lovers want to know that their pet is in good hands. Do all the staff treat your pet sympathetically and seem genuinely interested? They may need to restrain or muzzle your pet for treatment but there’s no excuse for rough handling. Also think about whether you’re being well informed about what’s going on and, if you have to give your pet any treatment, if you’re given clear information on how to do this.
The prices that veterinary practices charge can vary depending on their location, the facilities they offer and their overheads. Staff should be able to give you typical costs for routine treatments and don’t forget to ask exactly what’s included when you’re given a quote. If your pet is having surgery, find out whether there will be further charges for post-op check-ups. It’s definitely worth getting pet insurance – you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief when you’re faced with a bumper vet bill.
Some charities, like The Blue Cross, provide veterinary treatment to people on benefits for a donation or at a reduced fee. Contact your nearest charity for advice.
Most vets carry out a variety of medical and surgical procedures but there may be times when it’s better for a specialised vet to take over – for example if your pet needs an MRI scan or has a complex fracture. If your practice doesn’t have a specialist then they may refer your pet to another vet.
Also think about what range of pets the practice usually treats. If you’ve got an unusual or exotic pet, it’s worth finding a vet who has experience with that species. If you’re not sure your local practice should be able to point you in the right direction or you can search for a practice by species on the RCVS website.
Some vets provide extra services, like puppy training and obedience classes, which can be really helpful. Many offer advice and factsheets to help you care for your pet. If you’re interested in what other services your local practice provides, give them a ring or see if they’ve got a website.