Find a Trustworthy Vet Before Sickness or Emergency

bird Find a Trustworthy Vet Before Sickness or Emergency Better Business Bureau recommends consumers research veterinary services before the family pet gets sick or injured.

In 2012, more than 36 million Americans shared their homes with dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and other pets.  Like their human hosts, pets require occasional visits to the veterinarian for shots and examination, diagnostic or medical treatments.  The average cost per visit was $227 for dogs and $90 for cats.  In an emergency, an after-hours visit and follow-up can run from $500 to more than $1000.

BBB has received inquiries about vets from more than 102 thousand consumers nationwide so far this year, to see what other pet owners’ experience was like with a particular caregiver.  Connecticut BBB recommends finding a vet when your pet is healthy, to prevent having to make a last-minute decision that could be costly.

Begin by asking friends, family and colleagues about which vets they use and why.  Check out a clinic at bbb.org before making an appointment to see if there is a pattern of complaints, and if so, how they were resolved.

In addition:

  • Determine what kind of veterinarian care your animal needs or will require.  Ask if the clinic belongs to the American Animal Hospital Association or is BBB-Accredited. Both require high standards.
  • If your pet isn’t a dog or cat, find out if the clinic has an exotic animal specialist for birds and reptiles.
  • How many veterinarians are in the practice?  Can you specify which one you would like to have treat your pet?
  • How much are fees?  Does the clinic offer financing or pet insurance plans?
  • How does the vet feel about alternative treatments for your pet?
  • Are X-rays, ultrasound, blood work, EKG, endoscopy and other diagnostic tests done in-house or referred to a specialist?
  • Will you be informed before such tests are administered?
  • Are clinic hours convenient?  Is the location and parking convenient?
  • What is the policy and what are the fees for after-hours emergencies?

Having a sick or injured pet is extremely stressful for all involved, so prepare in advance by finding a veterinary practice you trust, and that offers the kind of services you and your pet will need.

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About Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, Executive Communications Director of Connecticut Better Business Bureau, is an award-winning former correspondent and anchorman, and media consultant for Fortune 500 companies. He specializes in issues involving consumers and the marketplace.