I am planning to adopt a dog from my local animal shelter — how do I choose a veterinary hospital?
It’s important to choose a veterinary hospital before you need one, so it is good that you are starting to look before you adopt your pet. Ask family, friends, neighbors and the animal shelter for recommendations. Once you find a hospital, take some time to check it out. Ask for a tour of the facility, and use your eyes and nose to detect cleanliness. Also check if the facility is well lit. Does it have laboratory equipment? Is there gas anesthesia? If it doesn’t meet your expectations, turn around and leave.
Hospitals that are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) meet high veterinary care standards. Each hospital voluntarily completes a detailed evaluation of its services and equipment. Then a trained practice consultant thoroughly inspects the hospital to make sure it meets AAHA’s high standards in the areas of:
- Emergency services
- Pain management
- Patient care
- Surgery and anesthesia
- Contagious disease protocols
- Radiology services
- Laboratory services
- Client service
- Staff continuing education and training
- Human resources and leadership
- Patient and staff safety
- Pet medical records
- Examination facilities and equipment
- Housekeeping and maintenance
Approximately 12 percent of the small animal veterinary hospitals in the United States and Canada are accredited AAHA members.
In addition to the facility, you’ll also want to make sure the veterinarian meets your expectations. It’s important that you and your pet are comfortable with the doctor. The veterinarian should be able to communicate with you and make you feel comfortable asking questions. Even if the doctor is highly qualified, if you don’t hit it off, you may need to go elsewhere.
Finally, when choosing a veterinary hospital, make sure the office hours and payment policy are convenient for you. Ask for a hospital brochure or welcome letter that explains the hospital policies and procedures.
For a referral to an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital, please visit AAHA’s online Hospital Locator.