What to Look For When Choosing a Veterinarian for Your Dog

 Wednesday Aug 03,2022
By  Lancaster Puppies

You don’t want to wait to find a vet until your pet needs one. If you know you are going to adopt or buy a puppy, start researching local animal clinics before bringing your new furry friend home. Read on to learn what qualities to look for in a veterinarian and save our list of local animal clinics and hospitals to check out in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania!

Experienced & Licensed

To start everything off, you want to make sure the veterinarians you’re researching have the licensing, experience, and education required to perform veterinary services. Vets should have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree but don’t be alarmed if your vet has a Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD) degree. While other universities go with the title DVM, the University of Pennsylvania uses VMD; however, both DVM and VMD degrees are on the same level.

Additionally, you should seek out animal clinics that have registered veterinary technicians, which are the vet equivalent of registered nurses in hospitals. These licensed technicians have completed formal education and mandatory training that’s vital to their role.

Vet Specialties

Black French Bulldog wearing a coneFind a vet that specializes and excels in the care of dogs and puppies (and other animals you may have). These vets will have more experience working with dogs and the conditions that affect them. For example, if you have a dog breed that is susceptible to multiple health conditions (like a Rottweiler, French Bulldog, Boxer, or Bernese Mountain Dog), you’ll especially want to find a vet that specializes in working with that breed and its conditions.

Aligned Values

Finding a vet that has the same values concerning animals as you is important. The vet’s values surrounding alternative medicine, spaying & neutering, TNR, euthanasia, and cancer, among other things, should align with your own beliefs on the subjects. Having a vet with aligning values is important for owners seeking an animal clinic that is focused on preventive care and catching problems before they occur. You’ll also want your vet to see pets as special family members.

Positive Vet & Technician Demeanor

You and your dog should like the vet, technicians, and staff. While your dog may not be best friends with their vet, it’s very important that they don’t hate them. If you have a pet with vet anxiety, the animal clinics should know how to handle and calm them. The vet and staff should be kind to your pet and treat them with respect. Likewise, your vet should not have an ego that prevents them from being open to second opinions and referring your pet to a trusted specialist when needed.

Your pet’s health and happiness should be important to your vet and vet technicians. Because pets can’t tell us how they’re feeling, pet owners usually have a lot of questions. You’ll want to find an animal clinic with vets and staff that are patient, friendly, helpful, and understanding when you have questions. Vets, technicians, and staff should take the time to listen to your concerns with empathy and care, as well as give understandable explanations when able.

Clean & Up-to-Date Facility

Australian Shepherd puppy being given medicine in a syringeJust like you’d want doctors' offices and hospitals to be clean, you should look for an animal clinic that is clean and sanitized. The cleanliness of an animal clinic should be evident from the parking lot, sidewalk, waiting room, and all the way into the examination room.

The outside cleanliness of the facility, like the parking lot and sidewalk, is important as this is a high-traffic area for dogs coming and going from the vet clinic. Many dog owners walk their dogs outside their animal clinic to take a bathroom break and burn off nervous energy. Keeping this area clean is respectful to dogs and their owners as it keeps everyone healthy and safe. Furthermore, in addition to using sanitized equipment, vet supplies should be up to date, sealed when appropriate, and unbroken.

Continued Learning

Choosing an animal clinic that values continued learning among its staff and veterinarians helps ensure quality care in the present and future. You should aim to find a vet that stays up-to-date with veterinary practices and research. Additionally, it’s good to find an animal clinic that encourages and provides the means for their technicians and staff to further their education in veterinary care. Just like you wouldn’t want to go to a hospital where the doctors are following outdated procedures when better ones exist, your pet should also receive care that reflects the best present-day practices.

Hours of Operation & After-Hours Care

Close up of a gray puppy looking into the cameraFind an animal clinic with operating hours that work with your schedule. If you can only make an appointment before or after work, find a vet office that’s open in the early morning, evenings, and/or on weekends.

Look for an animal clinic that has some version of emergency services or referral. You’ll want to know ahead of time what to do if you need emergency vet care. Find out if any of the vets do house visits (this isn’t a requirement, but it’s definitely a plus!) Does the animal clinic have someone on call for emergencies after hours? Do they have a list of emergency referrals on their website? If your dog has a condition that is beyond what your vet has experience in, or if your vet can’t fit your dog into their schedule, they should refer you to another veterinarian who can help.

AAHA Accreditation

A big plus for an animal clinic is accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Being accredited by the AAHA further ensures that the vet office is good at what they do, accomplished, and trustworthy. In order for an animal clinic to become accredited with the AAHA, it needs to meet around 900 standards. These standards include dentistry, surgery, anesthesia, labs, medical records, pharmacy, pain management, sanitation, and animal care. An accreditation with AAHA lets you know an animal clinic has been evaluated and approved for having exceptional care.

While choosing an AAHA-accredited animal clinic is a good choice, don’t get stuck on this. AAHA accreditation is good to have but isn’t a requirement as there are many good animal clinics without it.

Accepting New Clients

Dark brown Australian Shepherd puppy smilingWhen looking for a new vet you also need to make sure that they are accepting new clients and can see you when needed. If you have a new puppy, you don’t want to wait months before you can get a wellness exam and a new client appointment. If the animal clinic you’re set on isn’t currently accepting new clients, you can always switch to them later on. Just remember to request copies of your pet’s medical records to forward to your new animal clinic when you switch.

Positive Word of Mouth

One of the best ways to find a high-quality vet is through recommendations from friends, family, and neighbors. You can also ask other dog owners at dog parks, local forums, dog groomers, and doggy daycares. Checking reviews online and from friends and family will help you decide if a vet is right for you and your pet.

When getting recommendations from friends and family, ask about the waiting room, how you enter and exit with your pet (some vets have a special procedure for this to keep animal anxiety low), what their prices are like, what the staff is like, and if there are any financial or payment plans available.


Finding a veterinarian that works well with you and your pets is invaluable. If you aren’t happy with the animal clinic you’re at, checking out different vets in the area is recommended. Making sure you and your pets are happy, safe, and healthy is a priority! Download our list of animal clinics and hospitals in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to discover vets in your area.

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