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How Do You Find the Right Vet for Your Dog and for You?

Our favorite vet recently went on maternity leave, and we've been searching for a new one ever since. It's so hard to find a good fit!

Heather Marcoux  |  Aug 18th 2016


I downloaded and filled out the new client form from the vet clinic’s website, but there was no email address listed, so I called to ask for one. The woman who answered the phone declined to give me the clinic’s email address and suggested I could instead fill the form out again by hand when I arrived for GhostBuster’s appointment the following day. In hindsight, I probably should have cancelled right then and there. There was no way I was going to like dealing with this clinic enough to be a long-term client. I hadn’t even set foot in the building yet and the experience was already kind of annoying, and just such a stark contrast to dealing with our previous iPad toting, email-friendly vet. It made me miss her.

This awesome vet — let’s just call her Dr. Awesome — was the first vet I ever met who seemed to genuinely care about my animals. Maybe I just had bad luck with previous vets — caught them on bad days or whatever — but I always felt like they were trying to set some kind of record for fastest appointment time and clinical food sales. Maybe it was because I was a new pet parent, or a high-maintenance one, but especially when it came to GhostBuster — a LabGolden mix who suffers from skin issues and allergies — I felt like we weren’t really being heard by the vets.

GhostBuster resting on the floor at one of his first vet visits back in July 2014.

GhostBuster resting on the floor at one of his first vet visits back in July 2014. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

That feeling changed when we met Dr. Awesome. She was different that any vet GhostBuster — or any of my pets — had seen before. She took the time to listen to all the things we had already tried and what our concerns were. Basically, she had a great bedside manner. To be fair, this might be because she’s a mobile vet, so she was meeting my animals at my house and not at a clinic with a waiting room stuffed with impatient clients and racks of food to sell.

Finding a mobile vet was good for Marshmallow, who is still working on her confidence and doesn't love going to the animal hospital.

Finding a mobile vet was good for Marshmallow, who is still working on her confidence and doesn’t love going to the animal hospital. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

Over the course of a few appointments, she developed a rapport with my pets. I really liked feeling like we were experiencing a continuity of care, something that we hadn’t had with other vets. I guess what made our experience with Dr. Awesome so different was that we were building a relationship with her — I mean, how can you not when a person is expressing your dog’s anal glands in your sunroom or sedating them on your kitchen table?

Marshmallow was sedated and had her tear ducts flushed in the comfort of home last summer.

Marshmallow was sedated and had her tear ducts flushed in the comfort of home last summer. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

This vet was great at communicating in person, but she was also great at communicating over email. After every visit, I got a detailed exam report, and she would often email me in the days after an appointment to see how my pets were. Thanks to Dr. Awesome, GhostBuster’s anxiety and skin issues are much better, so I was really bummed when I got an email announcing her maternity leave. As a new mom myself, I was of course happy for her, but also sad that we would be losing her skills for at least a year.

GhostBuster has been to a lot of vets. In this picture he's at an emergency clinic after eating cat litter.

GhostBuster has been to a lot of vets. In this picture, he’s at an emergency clinic after eating cat litter. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

With a few months of GhostBuster’s prescription refills on file at the pharmacy and many weeks before either of the dogs were due for vaccinations, I decided not to panic. I could take my time, look for a new vet, and just go back to our old vet clinic in the meantime. Soon though, it was time for GhostBuster to get his shots. I decided to make an appointment at a clinic that came highly recommended by friends and folks in the local rescue scene.

GhostBuster waiting for the vet at the clinic that doesn't do email.

GhostBuster waiting for the vet at the clinic that doesn’t do email. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

I should have known it wouldn’t be a good match when the clinic wouldn’t give me their email address, (um, why even have the form on your website then?), and things kind of went from bad to worse. When the doc came in, I tried my best to give him the nutshell version of GhostBuster’s medical history — but I have a hard time communicating it all in a couple minutes (seriously, I have a timeline of his medical issues saved in Google docs, and it’s like 2,000 words long). The doctor tried his best, talked about allergy testing versus food trials, and recommended a hydrolyzed kibble that we have already tried. It was all kind of old hat to us, and not really a road I want to go back down when my dog is doing well on his current diet.

The vet gave GhostBuster his shots, and we left the clinic knowing we wouldn’t be coming back. It just didn’t feel like a good fit. I wish there was a way to shop around and meet with vets without looking like a crazy, high-maintenance dog mom. How do people find vets they like? Where is my next Dr. Awesome? Please share any advice in the comments.