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Choosing a vet(15 Posts)
On average, how often does one need to take a puppy /dog to the vet? Should one choose the vet like a GP, with key factors being proximity and ease of booking an appointment, or like a Harley street doctor, looking for a supervet?
If it matters for decision-making, we are getting a standard poodle from health-checked parents with a low COI; very experienced reputable breeder. The puppy will have had both sets of vaccinations when we collect him.
I'd join your local nextdoor.co.uk and ask the question on their for local recommendations. I see the question come up often for a local vet on there.
I choose my vets based on their locality, parking and that fact that they were a reasonably large group of practices with lots of vets with specialities and a good surgical department, hydrotherapy and diagnostic center.
In an emergency you don't want to be travelling too far. If you have a dog that cannot walk you want to be able to park close to the door (I have had to carry my dog in several times). Mine has had many accidents and illnesses and only once have we had to be referred to a specialist pet hospital as most of the diagnostic tests were able to be done in house.
More like Harley Street Doctor I think.
Ask around locally for recommendations.
I changed my vet about a year ago because I wasn't happy with the vet I was with: too many chances of vets, so never saw the same vet. No overnight facilities and the emergency vets they use was over 15 miles away.
The vet I'm with now is about 5 miles away, so not the nearest, and I'm very happy with them.
It's actually a branch of a vets that has opened branches in a few rural places over a small area, it's not a franchise though. They deal with all routine stuff and operations are done at the main practice, which is state of the art.
Very professional and caring, dog seems to love them, with a good 24 hour service in the main practice, which is about 9 miles away. Can always get appointments and can always see the same vet, obviously not with emergencies though.
My dog is 9 years old and I've changed my vet a few times because I've moved house and now I have a good idea of what I want from my vet and my current vet pretty much fulfils that.
Obviously, you'll be looking for certain things of your own from your vet but I thought this might give you some food for thought. Sorry it's so long.
The most important thing for me would be the location of their out of hours/emergency facility; it's all very well having a local branch surgery but their OOH could be contracted out 20+ miles away.
I would also want to know if the branch surgery has diagnostic equipment (in-house bloods, x-ray, ultrasound etc.) or whether you'd be sent on to another branch further afield for those.
Yes, threemiles that was one of the reasons I left my previous vets, their out of hours was 15 miles away.
My current one's out of hours, 9 miles away, is the nearest one and is used by other local vets.
When you live in a fairly rural area a lot of things aren't on your doorstep unfortunately.
Anyone living in a busy area will have more vets I imagine but level of treatment and facilities would still be my priority over location.
Thank you so much for taking time to share your insights. It is really helpful to understand the menu of services a good vet would offer (I did not even think about things like overnight facilities or out of hours care...) We are in London so it might be easier to find specialists if there is a complex need, but it sounds like we should look for a sophisticated multidisciplinary practice for basic primary care as well.
Ah yes I forgot to say my vets emergency and overnight care is in one of the practices so we had continued care with his vets when he was admitted for 2 weeks.
My vets group is in 6 locations so not huge but big enough to provide a large amount of services. I often ask for a specific vet depending on what the issue is with my dog as they list their specialisms online.
Yes, that sounds about right.
Don't forget insurance for your pooch.
Get the best cover you can afford and always go with a lifetime policy, not yearly.
I'm with Pet Plan. They're not the cheapest but they pay out quickly and regularly and don't increase your premiums because you make a claim. Does increase with age though.
Ask around, imo its a lot more important than flashy services. The rescue I foster for uses a vet which looks incredibly tatty from the outside, and is v old fashioned in looks. But they really care for the dogs, are absolutely lovely, and do a great job. When more specialised surgery is needed, they will refer.
My vets are a bit bigger, but I really like their no nonsense attitude (but I know some people don't). And they are 5 mins in the car which is a big difference in an emergency. Both do their own out of hours, and overnight. I wouldn't use a vet which didn't.
I've been wondering this too so thanks for the thread. There's one right by me that's 24/7 but there's another 5 mins away which has much better reviews, however no out of hours (have to go in car 10 mins for that).
Thank you, a lot of food for thought. We have a vet literally within a 5 min walk but it seems a fairly small basic practice for routine procedures - so I don't think worth considering in light of your advice. There is a big swanky practice within 20 min drive, allegedly award-winning, including in threebestrated.co.uk (which is supposed to select winners based on customer feedback). Various specialists, digital imaging, laser something for joints (??), laparoscopy etc. Will ring them tomorrow.
Good point about pet insurance, it was my next question! I am also leaning towards Petplan - I have a pleasant delusion that if a company specializes in a particular product, eg pet insurance, it is more competent and reliable than an insurance supermarket. I specified life cover, and the options in the quote range from £40 / month for Classic (£4000 in vet fees per year, £1000 complementary treatment) to Classic+ (£7k in vet fees, £1k in complementary) to £65/ month for Ultimate (£12,000 per year in vet fees, £2,000 in complementary treatment). I am thinking the middle option, £7k in vet fees, but it is totally unsubstantiated by any real knowledge of what treatments a puppy might need in the first year...
I'm with the £7000 one.
It's hard to know tbh if it's going to be enough unless you've got a crystal ball.
My dog is 9 years old now and we're still okay. Claimed quite a bit but no major operations, which would push up the vet fees considerably.
The premiums are a bit eye watering now though, but I either go on paying, just in case, or cancel it and put money aside.
It's just been renewed so at the moment I'm still paying.
I have the 4k one and regret not going for the highest tbh. We have claimed around £5k already and he is 4 this year. We narrowly avoided a 5k operation a while back after an accident and I know someone who had over a £10k bill from cancer treatment for a relatively young dog.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. It's such a gamble with insurance... I think we'll go for the £7k cover as well.