Looking For A New Veterinarian: Our List Of Questions

The time I dreaded has come; we have to look for a new veterinarian.

Dr. Rae Worden, DVM will remain our lifeline.

We love our vet and finding him was a long, painful journey. There are only two reasons why we would look for a new one:
  1. Us moving
  2. Our vet moving or retiring
We have to search for a veterinarian because we will be moving.

We'll be moving to Jasmine's ranch, which is about a seven hour drive from here and that gives us no choice but to look for a veterinarian at our new location. Though I have already talked to our vet about keeping him on board so we could consult with him if needed.

I have looked at our options and roughly narrowed it down to a few potential candidates. I looked at their education, experience, areas of interest, affiliations and services they offer.

I have made a list of questions, the answers to which will be an important part of our decision.

  1. What is your vaccination policy?
  2.  Do you titer?
  3. Pain management philosophy? (Do you use pain medication after spay/neuter? Dentals? Other procedures?)
  4. Anesthesia protocol
    a.    Pre-anesthesia screening
    b.    Anesthetic agents used (e.g. sevoflurane vs isoflurane)
    c.    IV catheter even for short procedures
    d.    Endotracheal tube
    e.    Anesthesia induced and monitored by whom
    f.    Monitoring during and after (respiration, ECG, blood pressure, O2 sats, temperature
    g.    Post-anesthesia monitoring – where and 100 percent of time
  5. How do you handle emergencies during business hours?
  6. How do you handle after-hour emergencies?
  7.  Equipment for basic testing in emergencies (e.g. basic blood panel, urinalysis etc?)
  8. Care for 24-hour care hospitalized dogs; who cares for them through the night/weekends?
  9. What is your visitation policy?
  10. How much time do you allow per appointment?
  11. Do you accept Trupanion insurance plan?
  12. Do you happen to use online records?
    a.    Do you provide a copy of records/notes from appointment?
    b.    Do you provide copy of lab results?
  13. Do you offer health plans?
  14. What is your policy for avoiding errors?
  15. Specialists/second opinions/cooperation; who do you consult with?
  16. What types of surgical and medical cases do you prefer to refer and to where?
  17. Emphasis on patient history and owner description of signs?
  18. Do you discuss treatment options?
  19. Do you discuss owner’s internet or other research?
  20. Forms of communication (visits, phone, skype, email)
  21. Stem cell/ PRP treatments?
  22. What veterinary associations do you belong to?
  23.  Do you make house calls?
  24. Do you allow medical boarding?
  25. How do you handle euthanasia? (Do you allow family to be present? Do you do house-calls? Do you schedule the procedure for the end of the work day? Can you accommodate it in an urgent situation? What place do you use for cremation?)
  26. Do you allow a tour, including back of the hospital?
  27. Do you allow a dog to be accompanied to the "back" of the facility?
  28. Do you have an isolation ward?
  29. Do you employ registered veterinary technicians?
  30. Do you place large breed dogs on examination table? If so is it a lift-table? Does it have non-slip non-reflective surface?
  31. Expertise in physical therapy?
  32. Do you provide written estimates?
  33. How much do you charge for a visit/consultation?
  34. Advanced training (intership.residency)?
  35. Continued education?
The hospital at the top of the list is AAHA accredited, so that provides some indication of care standards.

The veterinarian we are interested in is also trained in acupuncture by Chi Institute. So for her I have some further specific questions:
  1. What TCVM diagnostics do you use?
  2. Besides acupuncture, do you use nutritional therapy and herbal therapy?
  3. How long have you been practicing acupuncture on dogs?
  4. How do you feel about raw or home-cooked diets?
  5. How many canine patients have you treated?
Now I just have to hope they won't run for their lives when I pull out all my questions.

Our vet is already used to me but for them, the level of my involvement might be a bit of a shock.

The other thing is what I'll do if only some of the answers will be satisfactory. I do have priorities but most of the things on the list are very important to me.

On the other hand, just them answering (or not) all of those questions would say something about them too.

Of course, then we'll visit personally and whether our dogs approve or not is also important. And we'll keep a lifeline to our present vet active. So wish us luck.

Would you add anything to my list of questions?

Related articles:
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet
Veterinarians Are People First
Emailing With Your Vet And The Miracle Of Web-based Medical Records


  1. Congratulations on your move to Jasmine's ranch, so happy for you, that your dream is coming true!

    1. Our dream was that Jasmine could have lived there full-time for at least a year too ...

      And it'll be a bit rough at first, but it's an awesome place to live.

    2. PS: I just wish we were rich enough so we could "buy" our vet and take him with us! :-)

  2. Oh, a client should never ask, and never be allowed to accompany a pet during a procedure. I assume you mean a surgical procedure, and not a nail trim, or euthanasia? It's a sure recipe for disaster.. You wouldn't expect to go in the surgery room with your husband would you? Except for delivering a baby,,, I hope I am not the only one who feels this way.

    1. Well, clearly depends on the dog, on the client and on the procedure. Otherwise, Dr. Kay in Speaking Spot would beg to differ, this is one of the things she lists:


      Are clients allowed to accompany their dogs to the "back" of the facility? Often, dogs are whisked away to the "mysterious" back rooms of the clinic for various procedures. Unless you are a "fainter," you may wish to go along. Find out whether or not this is allowed.


      For ourselves, we generally don't have the need but that might change. Hubby was there for Jasmine's stem cells treatment.

      And I have a friend who has to be there for about everything, otherwise her dogs totally flips.

  3. Jana, that is an awesome list. I do think some vets will be shocked by it, just because most pet owners don't ask any of these types of questions. I have to say I typically choose a vet based on convenient location and price, so I don't even know our vet's policy or answers to some of these questions.

    I would say a good one on the list, for me, would be whether or not the pet owner can come back and be present for certain procedures so the animal doesn't feel so alone/scared. Although, I do realize some pet owners will just make these types of situations worse by acting nervous or whatever it might be.

    Interesting post!

    1. Yeah, would be nice if choosing based on location and price was good enough, but often that criteria doesn't cut it. Does for typical healthy dog, but I want to have a vet I can feel I can rely when things get complicated too.

      Yes, whether or not a client is allowed in the back with their dog can be really important. Not so much in our case, because our dogs love going to the vet (at least the one we have now) but for some it can make a bit difference.

      Though, as you said, for some dogs is best if the owner is nowhere near.

      As for the whole list itself, I think I might just have to choose a vet who simply survives the interrogation ;-)

  4. I have no idea what #2 is, but great list and important to know before you're in a crisis. ~Rascal and Rocco

    1. Titers are blood antibody tests to determine level of immunity.

  5. Ab Fab post!!!! I love Dr Kay's book and though I am a cat person, I advise people who have any pets to buy Speaking for Spot! Your questions and your thoughtful perspective speaks volumes for the kind of person you are and wanting the best for your pets. The new feline only practice I work at has windows in the exam room doors that look onto the treatment area, a big comfort for clients, even if they don't want to 'come to the back'...

    1. Nice.

      Yes, Speaking for Spot is a must have book!


Post a Comment