Whether you’re bringing home a new pet for simply trying out a new veterinarian, your first visit to the vet is critical in establishing a healthy and functioning relationship between you, the vet, and your pet. Before your visit, write down any questions you want to ask your new vet, and take a notebook to the visit with you to record the answers and any additional information you’ll need to remember. Regardless of the reason for the visit, these five questions should be top of your list right away.
What if my pet needs urgent care during the evenings, weekends, or holidays?
Many vets provide on-call emergency services until a certain hour each evening. Be sure to ask about the process for this; will you call a different phone number? is there an answering service? will emergency services be administered in the office, or does the vet provide house calls? If you vet does not provide emergency services, he or she should have an established relationship with a nearby emergency animal hospital. Ask for a referral to this hospital, and give them a call to understand their policies and procedures, as well.
Is pet insurance right for my pet? Do you recommend any particular carrier?
Even if your pet is healthy, you may see vet bills creep into the thousands of dollars. Sprightly kittens and puppies can be injury-prone and acute illnesses can happen at any time. Pet insurance is an excellent way to recoup a significant portion of the cost of care in these situations. Ask your vet if he or she has other customers who have had positive experiences with a pet insurance carrier.
What procedures can be done in the office?
Many veterinarians provide x-rays, outpatient surgeries like spaying or neutering, or other specialty procedures in the same office. However, if your new vet’s office doesn’t have facilities for these procedures, ask where they will refer you if your pet needs them in the future.
What is your payment policy?
Most veterinary offices will expect complete payment at the time of service, meaning that if your pet’s treatment costs $850, you’ll need to pay the full amount immediately, often without knowing the total beforehand. This can make it difficult to plan for unexpected illnesses or injuries. Ask your new vet if they will accept a payment arrangement for bills over a certain amount, and how much you should expect to pay in a good faith deposit.
How many doctors are practicing in your office? Can I request to visit a specific vet?
Smaller offices may only have one veterinarian, but many practices in large cities include several vets. Make sure you’re clear on the process for scheduling an appointment and requesting a particular vet if you prefer. If your preferred vet is not available, ask if you may have a quick chat with the vet you’re scheduled with prior to the upcoming visit in order to establish a trustful relationship and get the best care for your pet.