There’s a lot to think about when getting a new pet. From deciding where it will live to food and feeding arrangements, bedding, toys and training. As well as pet insurance and deciding how they will fit into your routine. Exactly what preparations you need to make depend very much on the species you’ve chosen. After all, there’s a lot of difference between a pony, a chameleon, a pet chicken and a dog! What is often left out, however, is choosing a veterinarian for your new pet.

Can’t I just find a vet after I’ve got my pet?

Well, yes. In fact, it’s very common for owners to only seek out a vet when their new pet needs to see one. However, consider the unpleasant scenario that your newly acquired puppy is unwell from the start. Or has an unfortunate accident during those first few days before you’ve even got around to looking for a vet. It’s incredibly stressful to have a poorly pet and need a veterinarian in an emergency. You’ll have to find a practice or emergency vets that can see you; you won’t be familiar with how to get there, the costs involved or the staff, and you might not be aware of what type of pets the practice is familiar dealing with.

It might seem like another hassle. But finding a veterinary practice early can make a difference to your experience of veterinary care for your new pet. It can enable them to be seen faster in an emergency. And you’ll be able to ask the clinic about any doubts or concerns you have regarding your pet or preparation for their arrival, before they even come home.  

What sort of vet do I need?

Not all vets are alike. The standard of veterinary care in the UK is high. However, there is a lot of difference between practices as to what type of pets they commonly deal with, and what their particular area of expertise is. There are mixed veterinary practices (which are happy to see farm, equine and small animals), equine only practices, companion animal only practices, equine and small animal practices, and those that specialise in one area, such as exotics or chickens, for example. 

Any practice can provide emergency treatment for your pet. Many will have individual veterinarians that have particular interest in rabbits, reptiles, and so on. That said, a centre dedicated to the care of exotic animals is more likely to have the appropriate equipment and housing facilities to correctly investigate, treat and care for different exotic species. Additionally, referral centres with registered specialists may offer emergency but not first opinion care. 

What other aspects are important to me?

It’s always helpful to have recommendations from friends and family. But again, you need to consider the vet that is best for you and your individual pet. You need to bear in mind how the practice fits with you and your values. This is why it’s helpful to approach practices by phone or in person. As well as to have a chat with their staff and find out what facilities they have and the services they offer. If you are taking on a pet from a rescue, or one with known behaviour problems, a veterinarian with expertise in animal behaviour can be a welcome source of knowledge and advice. 

If you consider aesthetics important, with a quick visit you’ll quickly weed out any practices that seem outdated in décor. Equally, if you know you’ll want plenty of time to discuss everything well with your vet, you may be happier in a practice that offers longer consultation times. (They can vary markedly, between 5 and 30 minutes). Consider if the practice offers health plans or packages, puppy training classes, home visits and emergency care and how important these are to you. As well as the costs of their services, the distance from your home, and their opening times. 

There are a lot of factors that play a part in choosing the right vet for you and your pet. It’s not a decision to be made without proper thought. Starting the process well in advance of your pet’s arrival can mean the difference between getting the right fit and the wrong one. Finding the right vet can make vet visits easier for you and your pet, as a trusting and compassionate relationship forms over many years of visits and dedicated care.  

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