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Finding the Right Vet for Your Cat or Dog

You’ve got a new pet in the house. Time to find a vet that can provide the care they need and deserve. Our Santa Cruz veterinary specialists offer some insight on factors you may want to consider in seeking a new veterinarian for your cat or dog.

How do I find a vet for my dog?

You’ve got a new four-legged bundle of joy in the family (or you need to look for a new vet). There is a lot to consider when it comes to finding qualified, appropriate medical care for your pet.

Luckily, our Santa Cruz specialist vets can share some valuable advice on how to find the right general veterinarian for your pet.

Ask Fellow Pup Parents & The Pet Community

Start with people you know in your area. Who do they use for a vet, and why? What qualities convinced them this was the place for them? Ask friends, family, groomers, even fellow pet owners at dog parks or groomers

We all love our animal companions, so you’ll likely find interesting and varied opinions, valuable information - and maybe even important factors you hadn’t thought of considering.

Read Online Reviews

Time for some detective work. Google and social media can be your friends when it’s time to look for a new vet. What do the reviews on their website, social media channels or Google My Business profile say?

According to clients, are the vets attentive, punctual, knowledgeable, and compassionate? Do they truly care about their patients? What about their office staff - are they polite and responsive?

While a practice may have one or two unhappy clients, consider it a red flag if you see consistent complaints that indicate a pattern of bad service, unprofessionalism, etc. Also, look for replies to reviews - is the practice responsive to concerns, and are questions or concerns resolved in a timely manner?

An active presence online and on social media may indicate the vets and staff will be similarly responsive in person.

Visit the Facility

Key indicators to pay attention to outside and indoors include:


Practical considerations such as location, parking and accessibility may be top of mind. Can you get to the office easily. Is the premises clean and accessible? Is parking safe and convenient? Is the office in a safe neighborhood?

Go during the times you’ll most likely be visiting, as this is the only way you’ll be able to find out if surprise factors such as traffic congestion or scarce parking around the office make it a no-go.


You’ll likely spend a significant amount of time in the waiting room during your visits. Is the waiting area clean and comfortable enough to sit in? Is the general environment relaxed?

Don’t forget to ask about wait times, as a full waiting room may indicate multiple veterinary emergencies that day, not necessarily long waits.

Ask Questions

A list of questions you may want to ask during your visit:

What are your hours?

Are the office’s hours convenient for you? Your dog will need preventive care, vaccinations and regularly scheduled exams, so it’s important that the practice’s hours mesh with your schedule.

What equipment do you have onsite?

Does the practice have advanced specialized equipment, such as diagnostic imaging technology onsite?

Our Santa Cruz is an urgent care and specialty hospital that treats pets only by referral, or in the cast of an emergency situation

Are tests or treatments outsourced?

Which tests are available at the hospital or office, and which are outsourced to other facilities? At Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists, we run a variety of tests in our in-house lab, from Complete Blood Counts to parasite tests and cytology to fecal exams, blood chemistry panels and more.

Which services do you offer?

Comprehensive services will be important as your dog reaches developmental milestones. 

Do they have an in-house pharmacy is conveniently stocked with a wide selection of medications and prescription diets ensuring you’ll have quick access to any medications your pets may need?

Check Qualifications & Training

This is where choosing the right vet is similar to shopping for other services. Is the vet you’re considering licensed in the U.S. and their state?

Do people working at the hospital (such as registered veterinary technicians) hold licenses? Ask to see these, or contact your state’s board of veterinary medicine for this information.

Board-certified specialists are a bonus. These professionals have completed intensive training in veterinary medicine.  Our specialty hospital is staffed by a plurality of veterinary specialists who are all experts in their respective fields.

Assess Vet’s Communication Style

The vet’s bedside manner and communication style is vital to developing a relaxed, honest and comfortable relationship with the people who will be caring for your pet’s medical needs. Professionalism, punctuality and compassion are key, whether you’re coming in for a routine exam or finding out your dog may need a surgical procedure.

Compare Prices

How are service fees charged? When price shopping, remember that one vet’s price for a given treatment may include post-op painkiller medication, anesthesia and monitoring, while another vet’s total may not include these necessities, so ask for totals for procedures. Animal hospitals are unique, so will have varying overhead costs.

Leaving Your Current Vet?

Many patients leave a veterinary clinic due to perceived communication issues or problems with service. If that’s the case for you, write an email or letter to the staff at your current clinic. Though this can feel awkward, it may also open dialog and allows the veterinarian an opportunity to respond. If you can’t come to a resolution, many vets are happy to refer you elsewhere.

If you're looking for a new vet, we wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

We hope this has been a helpful primer on what to look for in a general practice veterinarian. If your pet is experiencing a medical emergency, contact Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists immediately. 

New Patients Welcome

Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about restoring good health to Santa Cruz companion animals. We are open 24/7 to provide your pet with care, whenever they need us.

Contact Us

Contact (831) 475-5400