|English: A White German Shepherd dog awaiting a check-up at the Triangle Veterenary Emergency Clinic in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Maybe you've recently moved or maybe you have a puppy, and you don't have a veterinarian yet. Don't wait until you actually need a vet, because when you really need a vet you'll probably take the first one that comes along. It's better to plan ahead and take time now to look over the possibilities.
A good way to find a vet is to ask for recommendations from others you respect and trust. If your friend has a vet they recommend, find out what they like and don't like about the vet. It is a personal choice, and even with a strong recommendation you should still tour the facility.
It's true that any vet needs to be knowledgeable and experienced in medical matters, but they also need to be able to connect with both you and your pet. If they appear indifferent to your pet and your pet's needs or seem in a rush then you might not be happy with this vet. You need to feel comfortable communicating with the vet because you are your pet's spokesperson and you want to be heard.
The vet should be educated, experienced, and licensed. Find out how long they've been practicing and if they have any areas of specialty. It would certainly be a bonus if they specialize in diabetic cats and that's just what you need.
When looking over the facility check for cleanliness, separation of dogs and cats, how efficient the staff appears to be, how long people and pets are kept waiting in the waiting room, and the clinic's mission statement. Also ask if pets are seen on a rotational basis or if you will see the same vet each time.
What are their hours of operation and are they open on weekends? Do they have emergency services at the clinic or would they send your pet to an Animal Hospital for emergencies? How about diagnostics like xrays and labs; can they do them right there at the clinic?
Last but not least, you should know what the fees are and if they compare favorably with what other vets charge in the area. Call around for pricing at different clinics so you will know. If your vet of choice charges more it's possible they are highly specialized.
The fees charged should not be the biggest deciding factor when choosing a vet. Take into consideration your impression of the vet's "bedside manner", the cleanliness of the clinic, the staff's organization, and the hours of operation, to name a few. With a good tour of the facility and your questions answered, you should come away happy and confident with your choice of vets.