Finding the right veterinarian

Small puppy being held by veterinarian

Maintaining a relationship with a veterinarian will help ensure a healthier life for your new pet. A veterinarian provides preventive care (physical exams, medications, vaccinations, travel and nutrition advice, etc.) and treatments for injuries or illnesses throughout your pet’s life.

As your pet ages, your veterinarian will guide you in providing geriatric care and comfort to your pet. This lifelong relationship is important, and these tips will help you choose the right person or practice for you and your pet.

How to find the right vet

  • Ask your family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations.
  • Search your state veterinary medical association for a list of member veterinarians.
  • If you’re moving out of state or are new to the area and already have pets, ask your current veterinarian if they know of any veterinarians near your new home.
  • Consider one of the many local veterinarians who offer a free wellness examination within 14-30 days after the adoption date. Call within the first week to schedule your appointment. (Note: Some veterinarians may schedule your free exam up to 30 days after your adoption date based on appointment availability. Confirm with your vet at the time of making the appointment that they’ll honor the free exam within 30 days of adoption.)

VCA Animal Hospitals offer a free exam and complimentary treatment for select conditions within 14 days of adoption. Learn more.

Options for low-income pet owners

Animal Humane Society's Veterinary Centers offer high quality, low cost spay and neuter surgeries, dental care, and other wellness services such as vaccinations and testing to income-qualified pet owners.

Learn more about other local and national organizations offering veterinary assistance.

Questions to ask when selecting a veterinarian

  • Are the business hours a good fit for your schedule?
  • Are same-day appointments available for urgent matters?
  • How many veterinarians are on staff?
  • What medical services are provided (surgery, x-rays, ultrasound, access to specialists, etc.)?
  • Is the practice neat and clean?
  • What payment methods are taken?
  • What financing methods are available?
  • Is the staff knowledgeable about pet insurance?
  • Are there any services available besides veterinary care (such as boarding or grooming)?
  • How are after-hour emergencies handled?