Dog Health & Care

Choosing a Vet – 7 Vital Vet Tips to Use

Choosing a vet with 7 vital vet tips to use is essential to every dog owner, whether their dog is a cute little Chihuahua or a hard-working Alsatian.

Looking for one of the best veterinary clinics in your area that can offer your canine companion[s] the very best care is just as important as choosing your own physician for you and your family’s care.


choose a vet
“Alsatian” – Credit: Wikipedia
choosing a vet
“Chihuahua” – Credit: Nancy Houser


As time has gone on over the years, our four-legged friends have become more and more part of our families. Keeping them healthy over these years has slowly become a major responsibility, lengthening the time we have with them. It also increases their quality of life so we can enjoy them in their later years. Markets for pet products, vet products and vet services have grown to multi-figured markets.

The good news is there are many wonderful veterinary clinics out there that will take good care of your furry friend[s]. Additionally, we need to know the the seven things every dog owner should look for when choosing a vet.


choosing a vetWith companies like Brosch Direct offering a wide range of medical supplies, there is no excuse at all for a veterinary clinic to be dirty.

When choosing a vet, cleanliness is of paramount importance. It not only shows that the animals and premises are well looked after, but it will help with things like infection control, preventing your dog from getting sick before or after treatment.


It’s against the law in Britain and in the United States for anyone who is not registered to practice as a vet. The body in the UK responsible for this is the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). All qualified vets will have the initials MRCVS or FRCVS after their name. You can check the details of your chosen practice here.

Meanwhile in the United States, to meet the examination requirement for a vet license, you must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), owned and administered by the American Association of Veterinarian State Boards (AAVSB). 

Students in the final six months of a veterinary technology program registered by the New York State Education Department or accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association may be admitted to the VTNE.  All others must meet all education requirements including award of the degree before being admitted.

The deadline for submitting an application for license and first registration with the application fee and having your program submit education verification to the New York State Education Department is 60 days prior to the opening of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards’ (AAVSB) test window. For information on test windows, go to AAVSB’s Web site at

Practice Standards Scheme

Look for a RCVS Accredited Practice logo! This means a veterinary practice is part of the RCVS’s voluntary Practice Standards Scheme, which means they are rigorously inspected every four years and have spot checks in between. Click here to get the manual online from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Opening hours

It sounds obvious to some, but make sure when you choose a vet that the vet clinic of your choice has long opening hours so you do not have to completely rearrange your day whenever your dog needs treatment. Many veterinary practices open early or late these days to suit people who have work commitments, so it is worth looking around for a location that will fit into your lifestyle when choosing a vet.


choosing a vet
Credit: Nancy Houser

Not only are long opening hours important, but it is a good idea to choose a practice close to your home, or as close as you can get. While this is convenient for you, it could also be life saving for your dog if he/she were to require emergency medical attention quickly. Vets do their best to treat your animal on-site, but they may also need to send them to a different facility with more advanced medical equipment. Therefore, it is worth finding out where their nearest emergency surgery clinic is located.

Choosing a vet requires the dog owner to be aware of future emergencies of their beloved pet. Some of the most common vet emergencies (taken from PET MD) to keep in mind for dogs are:

  • PAIN –  Pacing, agitation, restlessness, panting, rapid heart rate, or even aggression, are all symptoms of possible pain.
  • DIFFICULTY BREATHING – This can occur due to trauma, allergic reactions, heart failure, toxins, infectious agents, cancer, or leakage of air.
  • SEIZURES – Seizures are episodes of abnormal electrical activity within the brain. They can be triggered by intra-cranial problems (such as epilepsy, brain tumors, or brain swelling) or extra-cranial problems (such as low blood sugar, electrolyte disturbances, etc).
  • DIFFICULTY URINATING – Many pets will strain to urinate if they have crystals or stones in their bladder. Inflammation, blood clots, cancer, or even stress alone can all cause difficulty urinating.
  • VOMITING AND DIARRHEA – Vomiting and/or diarrhea are some of the most common emergencies pets can have. These nonspecific gastrointestinal signs could be caused by a primary gastrointestinal problem (such as getting into the garbage or having an obstruction) or by a secondary cause (such as metabolic disease, cancer, etc).
  • COUGHING AND CHOKING – Choking can be a serious problem, even if the symptoms resolve within seconds. Coughing is a vague symptom of several possibilities, including viruses, bacteria, fungal pneumonia, allergic bronchitis, or even heart failure.
  • BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA – Many pets sustain some sort of blunt force trauma in their life. The external appearance of a pet can be deceiving. Even a minor bump by a backing up car can prove to be life threatening due to internal injury, some of which can take hours to become apparent.
  • TOXIN INGESTION– Toxins can be ingested, absorbed across the skin, or inhaled. Rodenticides are extremely common toxins in pets, but so are several household materials, such as cleaners, medications, plants, batteries, antifreeze, insecticides, paint, chocolate, xylitol containing products such as sugar-free gums, and fertilizers.
  • ALLERGIC REACTIONS – Causes of allergic reactions range from vaccine sensitivity to insect bites. Symptoms generally include facial swelling, hives, and itchiness, but may also include profuse vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy, or difficulty breathing.
  • DOG BITE WOUNDS – Although a dog bite wound may appear small, the damage to the underlying tissues is usually much more extensive. Dog bites tear the layers of skin, fat, and muscle apart, creating a pocket of air, seeded with infection. In some cases, penetration into the chest or abdominal cavity can become life threatening.

    dog heat stroke
    Illustration provided by Nancy Houser


While some vets work alone with just the help of their veterinary assistant, others are part of a larger clinic that has a lot of trained people to hand. It is up to you whether you prefer a more intimate environment or a more bustling setting, but if you go for a lone vet be sure to check their credentials are up-to-date, whether it is in the UK or USA.

Remember this, selecting a vet is not always easy, but the above seven tips should help you make a well-informed decision when choosing a vet.


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  1. November 13, 2017 at 9:31 pm — Reply

    I’ve been looking for an animal hospital, and I think that being able to look for some tips would be good. I’m glad that you talked about being able to pick a animal hospital with good hours that make it easy to go to. I’m going to have to look into some different options for animal hospitals, and figure out what we’re going to do!

  2. September 29, 2017 at 5:43 pm — Reply

    My boyfriend and I are thinking of adopting a dog, and we want to find a good veterinarian for it. I like your tip that we should choose a practice close to our home. We’d be able to bring our pet immediately, just in case an emergency occurs. Thanks for the tips!

    • October 16, 2017 at 11:04 am — Reply

      Spencer, my vet is right down the road from me. I have had him since 1999, and in those years I have many times his closeness has saved lives here at the rescue center. You cannot see in the future or what may happen. My answer? As close as possible as long as the vet is good and you have checked references and the BBC for complaints.


  3. September 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm — Reply

    Thank you for your advice in choosing a new vet. I can relate to your comments about finding a vet that is within a reasonable distance from home! I will keep this in mind as I search for someone local to care for my dog.

  4. September 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm — Reply

    We are planning on getting a dog and want to make sure we find a reputable vet that can help us care for it. It really helped when you mentioned who you should look for a vet that has the proper licenses and registrations to be a vet. I can understand that doing this can help you provide quality services to your animal and make sure they get the best health help they can get.

  5. August 28, 2017 at 11:28 am — Reply

    It makes sense that there would be special exams a vet would have to pass in order to get the proper licensing. Looking for those certificates and licenses would be important when investigating an animal hospital and trying to find the right one for your pet. At the very least it would help to ensure that they want to run their business according to the law and could probably be trustworthy as honest people.

  6. August 10, 2017 at 8:08 am — Reply

    This is the first that I have ever owned a pet before and I want to make sure that I find the best vet for my dog. You talked about how you should look at building that is clean since it not only shows that the animals and premises are well looked after, but it will help with infection control. Cleanliness was such great point to bring up about choosing a vet. Thanks for all the help.

  7. August 8, 2017 at 6:12 pm — Reply

    I like how you mentioned choosing a veterinary service that is located near your home. It makes sense to choose a practice that is conveniently close to you in the case of an emergency. My sister recently adopted a dog from her local shelter. Finding a veterinary clinic that is near her home could be useful to her.

  8. July 24, 2017 at 9:50 am — Reply

    I didn’t realize how important it is to choose a vet service that has hours that work for you to ensure you don’t have to completely rearrange your schedule. My wife and I just adopted a husky. Hopefully, we can use this info to find a service that can help her grow up healthy and strong.

  9. July 20, 2017 at 7:25 pm — Reply

    I agree with you in that it is important to make sure you take the time to choose a vet office that is kept clean. It makes sense that choosing a clean environment can help you avod exposing your pet to other pathogens that could be lethal. As I see it, taking the time to consult with several clinics and read what other clients have to say about the doctor can help you find the best one for your pet and make sure they know how to tr4eat them.

  10. May 30, 2017 at 11:13 am — Reply

    I found it interesting that the article states cleanliness is of utmost importance when choosing a vet. It makes sense though since I feel like cleanliness is a good indicator to the overall function of a pet service. I have also heard that determining the quality of care the staff can provide is also extremely important since your pet will interact mostly with the staff while receiving care. Is that true?

  11. March 28, 2017 at 11:33 am — Reply

    Thanks for the tips for choosing a vet. My wife and I just got a puppy, and we want to make sure she gets the best care possible. I like that you mentioned to make sure that a veterinary clinic is clean. That can show you that the vet cares and they will take good care of your pet.

  12. March 6, 2017 at 9:51 pm — Reply

    Choosing a practice close to your home would be very convenient. Being able to easily travel to your veterinarian would help you get your pet taken care of more quickly, especially in the case of an emergency. Finding a veterinarian you will enjoy working with would probably be important to help you keep your pet as healthy as possible.

    • March 6, 2017 at 9:58 pm — Reply

      Thank you, Tiffany, for the excellent comment! If anyone in your vet hospital would care to write an article for us, we would be glad to accept it. I looked at your website and it is very nice.

      Nancy Young-Houser

  13. January 30, 2017 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    I really like your tip about making sure that you choose a vet that is close to home! My husband and I just moved to a new town so we are in need of a new vet to go to. We will be sure to keep these tips in mind while we are looking at all of our options, thank you for sharing!

    • March 6, 2017 at 10:02 pm — Reply

      I hope you have found yourself a new vet by now! And thank you for the kind comment. If anyone in Kingston Animal Hospital would care to write an article for us, we would be more than glad to post it.

      Nancy Young-Houser

  14. […] …The good news is there are many wonderful veterinary clinics out there that will take good care of your furry friend[s]. Additionally, we need to know the the seven things every dog owner should look for when choosing a vet. Read full post at Way Cool Dogs… […]

  15. December 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm — Reply

    I appreciate your tip to observe the cleanliness of a vet office in order to know whether or not they’re a trustworthy vet. I’ve also heard that distance is a good thing to take into consideration when you are looking for a vet. I’ve heard that a vet who cares is a vet who listens to you and is very open with you about your pet.

  16. December 8, 2016 at 10:27 am — Reply

    My wife and I are trying to find an animal hospital to have on reserve in case one of our dogs has an emergency. We want to make sure that we have a place that will take great care of them, because they are a part of our family. I agree that there isn’t an excuse for a vet clinic to be dirty. I understand that animals come through nonstop, but the place should still be kept up to high cleanliness standards.

  17. August 9, 2016 at 10:23 am — Reply

    It is a good idea to look at the hours of operation. I have a busy schedule so I need a vet that is open past the time I get off work. I don’t want someone else to have to take my dog to the vet for me. He is already scared enough without me not being there!

  18. July 13, 2016 at 6:35 pm — Reply

    Dogs really are apart of the family. You put it very well, it is our responsibility to keep them happy and healthy. I’ve been researching about veterinarians just in case anything happens. For your children, you have a place to take them in an emergency situation. It only makes sense to have somewhere to take your pet as well.

  19. June 29, 2016 at 1:14 pm — Reply

    I am a very new pet owner so I will take any advice I can get on how to find a good vet. It’s interesting to read about the laws in Britain and the U.S. concerning the registration of veterinarians. Thank you for your 7 vital vet tips. I now have a good idea of what to look for in a good vet for my pet.

  20. June 23, 2016 at 9:33 am — Reply

    I really like your tip on looking at the cleanliness of an animal hospital or clinic. In the past, the vets that have given the best care to my dog have also been the ones that have given the most care to the cleanliness of their animal hospital. I’ll have to remember to share this tip with my family members that are animal owners so that they can find a good, clean animal hospital if their animals ever have problems. Thank you for the great tips!

  21. June 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm — Reply

    I like that you mention cleanliness because if I am going to an animal clinic, it should be clean especially if there are a lot of animals going in and out. You could easily spread disease if the place was dirty. I also like the registration that would make it easier to handle when you went in for our pet.

    • June 24, 2016 at 1:46 pm — Reply

      Thank you for the kind remarks, Charles. Let me know if I can help.


  22. June 12, 2016 at 7:00 am — Reply

    great ideas, thanks for the help !!

  23. May 31, 2016 at 7:45 am — Reply

    The only reason I go to the vet that we do is because of the distance. Until now, I feel like my puppy is always crying for the next few hours when she gets home. I wonder if it is the vet or if it is just the fact that she is having seperation anxiety.

    • May 31, 2016 at 11:43 pm — Reply

      I do not think it is the vet, or at least I hope not. If you have a gut instinct that it might be, then talk to some other customers or read some reviews online of that particular vet. Or you can simply find another vet. If you dog does that same thing, it would be separation anxiety.

  24. May 26, 2016 at 3:56 pm — Reply

    This is some really great advice to help you pick a vet; I really appreciate it! What caught my attention was the long list of problems that would be classified as an emergency for your pet. In my opinion, this list shows just how important it is to have a vet that can handle these emergencies. Since some of these symptoms, like difficulty urinating or pain, could go unnoticed for some time, I think that it is more likely that emergency procedures will be necessary to treat them. Plus, you can’t control when some of these problems occur, so having a vet who has a good emergency protocol and long hours is a must!

  25. May 17, 2016 at 11:24 am — Reply

    My wife and I recently bought a dog for the first time. I actually really appreciated this post, especially because we’re currently trying to find a good vet service. It makes perfect sense to look for a business that practices cleanliness. Thanks for sharing!

  26. May 16, 2016 at 2:56 pm — Reply

    Great post! Thank you for helping me understand how to choose a vet. I really like how you said that “When choosing a vet, cleanliness is of paramount importance. It not only shows that the animals and premises are well looked after, but it will help with things like infection control, preventing your dog from getting sick before or after treatment.” I have never been to a vet before but it is good to know that the cleanliness of the property reflects how the pets are treated.

  27. May 13, 2016 at 7:25 am — Reply

    This is a good list of symptoms to look out for. I know that one time my dog was coughing and wheezing and I had to make an emergency stop by the vet to help him. I’ll have to keep an eye out for these other symptoms so hopefully my dog does not get sick. Thanks for the awesome advice!

  28. May 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm — Reply

    I like that you mentioned cleanliness. I know working with dogs and cats things can get messy, but it says a lot if a facility is clean. I would suggest showing up unannounced for a visit and see how things look.

  29. May 11, 2016 at 2:56 pm — Reply

    I am trying to find a vet for my new puppy so that I can get him vaccinated. Thanks for the list of common emergencies that happen in dogs. I’ll have to make sure that the vet I pick is close at hand so that if any of these things come up I can get to the vet quickly.

  30. May 10, 2016 at 5:42 pm — Reply

    This is a very good article about tips on how to choose a vet for your pet. I would think that making sure that they are not too far away would be smart. I would imagine your pet would be happy too that they are close if they are not feeling well.

    • May 21, 2016 at 4:26 am — Reply

      An emergency usually is best handled by a nearby vet…..lives are saved that way.

  31. May 10, 2016 at 1:18 pm — Reply

    My husband and I finally got a dog for our kids after years of asking and pleading. Now that we do have the dog, we want to make sure that we are giving it the proper care that they need. I like how you point out the importance of not only looking for a place that has great availability and hours, but also someone who is accredited and has high standards of cleanliness. I imagine that in addition to these tips, it would be beneficial for us to look for someone who has high reviews from former clients. I’ll be sure to keep these things in mind as we’re looking around.

  32. May 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm — Reply

    Thanks for these great tips to help pick a veterinarian. I just got a puppy and am looking for a good place for him to get care. I like the tip to check opening hours. I would have forgotten to see if the y would be open at a time that would fit my schedule. Thanks again!

  33. May 2, 2016 at 12:24 pm — Reply

    This list of pet emergencies helped me realize how important it is to choose a vet that lives close to my house. If my cat were in a lot of pain or started experiencing seizures, I would want her to be able to get help without having to drive more than ten minutes. Now, I’ll use that as part of the criteria for choosing the right vet for my cat. Thanks for the tips!

  34. April 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm — Reply

    I like your tip on choosing a veterinarian that is close by. I would imagine that finding someone who is close would be helpful in emergency pet care situations. MY wife and I recently got a new dog so we should probably find a vet that is located close to us.

  35. April 25, 2016 at 5:33 pm — Reply

    I really like what you had to say about having a clean veterinary clinic. I think that is something that would really make a difference especially when you are seeing animals all the time. It would get really dirty and that could cause other problems.

  36. April 25, 2016 at 9:00 am — Reply

    My wife and I are moving later this year to an unfamiliar area. One thing that I am worried about is finding a good vet for our dog when we get to our new house. Thanks for going over these tips on finding the right vet. I know that most vets are licensed, but it is cool that know about the RCVS accreditation. I think this will help us find the right practitioner for our dog. Thanks!

  37. April 22, 2016 at 9:10 pm — Reply

    These were really helpful points that I should consider while choosing a vet. I would have never thought of the benefits of early opening hours. It seems like finding an offering that has hours that fit my schedule would be very beneficial. I will be sure to consider these points as I make my animal care choice.

  38. April 22, 2016 at 1:06 pm — Reply

    I believe that cleanliness says a lot about a place, especially a medical place. Also, I love the picture of that dog. I wish my dog did that. My dog was one of those savant dogs that found out how to get into all kinds of things like the garbage, grain, and a number of things. Living on a small farm, he would help himself to all kinds of fruit and even jump up and pick himself fruit of the trees. He was always having some kind of barf fest or diarrhea. There was only so much we could do!

  39. April 15, 2016 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    The sign of seizures is what my daughter saw in our dog. It seems like the pet was having this type problem before, but nobody told me about it before. I’m thinking about taking the pet to see the vet now that’s feeling better.

  40. April 15, 2016 at 11:39 am — Reply

    This post has answered some questions I’ve had about owning a pet and when to take them to a clinic. I think the list of common emergencies is especially helpful for a situation like that where I would need a vet. Thanks for the veterinary tips!

  41. April 7, 2016 at 6:50 pm — Reply

    Thinking about the distance between your home and the vet is a smart thing to do when you are looking for a veterinarian office to go to. You never want to get in a bad situation with your pet and have to drive forever to get to a vet. It seems like it would be a good to also know the fastest way to get to their office as well.

    • April 8, 2016 at 11:56 am — Reply

      Yes, Emily, distance says a lot when you are looking for a vet. Especially if there is an emergency involved. Agreed?

      Nancy Houser

  42. March 31, 2016 at 8:20 am — Reply

    I’ve been trying to find a good vet that I can call in case my dog gets sick. I think that it’s important to make sure you take cleanliness into account when you’re choosing a location. It’s also good to make sure that they are registered! Thanks for sharing!

  43. March 17, 2016 at 9:03 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the advice about what to consider when choosing a vet to bring my pets to. I agree that opening hours are important for people with a busy schedule. I got to school and I work part time, so I don’t have much free time. I would like to find a clinic that is open on Saturdays in case I can’t make it on a weekday.

  44. March 2, 2016 at 3:16 pm — Reply

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your suggestion to find a veterinarian that is close. I hadn’t considered that this could not only be convenient, but a life-saver for your pet. I’ll definitely look into finding one that’s close enough that I could get there quickly in an emergency. Thanks for the great post!

  45. Howard Reed
    January 26, 2016 at 7:49 pm — Reply

    I liked the tip about looking at the size of the office and how many assistants there were. We moved to another part of the county recently and nee to find a new veterinarian for our dog, and this post is going to help a lot with the process. I’ll also have to look into what other common illnesses are for dogs, so that I can explain what has been happening, if I ever have to take my dog to the vet.

  46. January 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm — Reply

    The differences between a small clinic and large clinic can be quite vast, like you mentioned. There are definite pros and cons of each type. I’m the kind of person that likes a more intimate place to take my pets. However, I am sure that the large clinics have a lot of benefit to them as well.

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