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February 26, 2014

How Did You Choose Your Vet?

How did I choose Eko’s first vet?  It was easy, I didn’t. My family has a vet in NJ who all our dogs have gone to, so there was never of question where I would take Eko. I felt right at home, and judging by

How did I choose Eko’s first vet?  It was easy, I didn’t. My family has a vet in NJ who all our dogs have gone to, so there was never of question where I would take Eko.

I felt right at home, and judging by the way he smooched the techs, so did Eko

While Eko and I traveled, keeping Eko in top shape was a coordinated effort.  We saw a vet in Tennessee for an ear infection, one in Portland for a rash and another vet in Colorado for an annual physical.  I kept all medical records along the way and checked in with my vet at home with any follow up questions.

After our trip, Eko had another exam at home and received his updated vaccines. When we moved to Chicago I had no vet for Eko.  I knew the location of an emergency clinic in our area, but that was about it. Then Eko slipped at the park last autumn and broke his toe.

Eko checking out his busted wheel

Without much thought, I booked the first appointment at the closest vet.

The receptionist had her own body gaurd

I felt the care and treatment for Eko’s paw were good and the price reasonable. However, I chose the vet based only on proximity so I felt it was worth researching other options in the area for the next time Eko got himself into trouble.  Eko was happy to oblige on that front.

This photo should be next to “How dogs get ear infections” in vet textbooks

Since it was not an emergency, I did not have to rush to the nearest vet.  I booked an appointment at a different practice that is well-reviewed on Yelp.com.

No practice is well-reviewed by Eko when he realizes he’s there for ear medication

The facilities and services at the second vet were top-notch but the baseline cost seems more expensive than the first vet we visited.  We had a quick follow up visit at the second practice and saw a different vet than we saw the first time.  At final count for our time in Chicago, Eko has seen three vets at two different practices.

Eko is an active, healthy and happy pup.  That would not be possible without the help of my vet from home and all the vets Eko has seen since then.  However, I don’t have one vet in Chicago who I’m completely comfortable with and who knows Eko.  Nor would I expect to have such a vet since I’m new(ish) to the city.

So who is Eko’s vet in Chicago?  I don’t know for sure, but I would like to figure that out. There are a lot of different considerations when choosing a vet, so I am very interested to hear from other people about their experiences.

There are adventure to be had, we can’t have Eko bedridden!

If you have any suggestions, recommendations or advice about choosing a vet, I would really appreciate your input. Thanks for any help or insight you can offer!

Comments for How Did You Choose Your Vet?

  1. PigLove says:

    It is so very hard to find a vet. I say this personally not from mom or dad. You see, we the pet have to bond with the possibly doctor. It’s kind of like our interview. If we don’t respond well to them, NEXT. Mommy went through two doctors until she found one that “I” liked. She is great to this little oinker. Good luck on your mission my friends! XOXO – Bacon

  2. there are some bloggers in your area…one in particular is Rosalyn from Sugar The Golden Retriever, you might want to ask her……off the top of my head I can’t think of anyone else in Chicago but I know there are more.

  3. Emma says:

    We thought a vet was a vet but after Mom had a friend that was a vet and several bad vet experiences we knew better. We went to four different clinics in six years before we found out current vet that we love. It is a hour drive but well worth it. On a fluke a Kuvasz breeder saw us out walking one day and Mom got to talking with them about Katie and they recommended we go to our current vet. We could not be happier. Not only are they over the top friendly and helpful, they are super knowledgeable and they look out for our money…meaning not shoving stuff at us we don’t really need. It is trial and error unless you have a good referral. Good luck – there are a few bloggers in your area, maybe they will have suggestions.

  4. Victoria says:

    Well my pups have had 2 vets as we are newish (3 years) to the area- the first one had us in their waiting room for hours and the prices were never constant – one time a heartworm test was $10 and the next time a month later it was $46.00 – the people at the vet’s office were great but i could no longer work with them because my appointments would be hours long and too expensive. The second one i went to was recommended to me by a woman who booked our carpet install. She has been bringing her pets there for years. The second vet had a much better waiting room (not prettier or nicer but arranged with nervous dogs and cats in mind) so the dogs like it better, better hours so i can schedule my appointments when its convenient for me and not the clinic, prices that remain constant so i can plan for the expenses, a great groomer to help me keep both dogs looking and feeling good and front office ladies who are super. I don’t get to see the same vet normally unless its a serious affliction and then the clinic seems to schedule me back with the same one. But all the vets seem on top of their game. All in all – we like our second choice – its certainly better for Rigs and Muffin (and Zephyr and Toots are cats) and me. My suggestion ask folks you deal with daily. When at the grocery store you go to all the time ask a checker if they have a dog and where they take their dog – or something along those lines.

  5. Elyse says:

    With much trial and error, and with an aging dog who had constant health issues, we found a vet in a smaller practice where we were guaranteed that the same vet would see Cooper every time. It made a huge difference as he aged. He trusted Dr. Custer and didn’t have to adjust.

    On important thing learned with Goliath’s vets is to take him to vets who don’t lie:

  6. Jorie says:

    Hey Will! My co-worker had a Sharpei who had a laundry list of health problems (poor little guy) and she couldn’t speak highly enough of the care he received at West Loop Veterinary Care. So that’s where I took Winnie for her puppy vaccinations and I have been SO pleased so far. I feel like the front desk staff and the vet knew me by face and name by my second visit and they shower Winnie with attention and love. Our specific vet is Dr. Mike Boling and you can see how much he truly loves dogs with his interactions with Winnie. It might be a bit more expensive than other places but it’s super clean, everyone is friendly, and they email/call me to check up on Winnie after vaccines and to remind me of appointments. I feel like they are really on the ball. Plus they have five free parking spots outside their office 🙂

  7. Well, what I look for is a practice that is well maintained, has up to date equipment and has staff that’s happy to be there. I also look for a practice that is progressive, open to alternative treatments and if at all possible AAHA certified (since they have certain standards to meet). I’ve been to several in the past that I’ll never go back to again but there are quite a few I’ve found that are great (and I’ve even worked for a few of those!)

  8. I have a nearby cheap-ish vet who can do all the basics. However, in an emergency or with anything more complicated than claw clipping or mites treatment I go further away . It’s about an hour longer to get to but they are an exotic specialist and very good. I found them after going on my favourite forum and looking at a list of recommended vets by other users.

    Finding the right vet is tough and sometimes there is only one good vet at a surgery and you might not get them. I remember seeing one I was certainly not impressed with and being so embarrassed when I called and asked for another on the follow up appointment. Too often people are afraid to do this, but until you have seen all the vets at a practice, I don’t think you can easily judge them.

    Good luck with your vet hunt. I’m sure Eko will sniff out the right candidate for you!

    ~ Amy

  9. Boomdeeadda says:

    I would say follow your gut instinct. We switched vets after the one we used for years couldn’t help us in an extreme situation during a holiday, even though they answered the phone and were obviously there (a country vet). Our cat had been sick for weeks, he had already seen her twice and we spent $800. I was choked and we were left to fend for ourselves. When we finally found someone to help (they didn’t even know us), they said come over right away. In the end we had to say good bye to our cat, I was traumatized. I think if you love animals and their comfort and welfare are really important to you, a holiday is just another day on the calendar. So that would be a question I would ask any vet, “what happens if Eko get’s sick on a holiday?” “Do you have an emergency contact number?”

  10. Mags Corner says:

    We have had the same vet for over 25 years. I met him when I volunteered for the local Humane Society. He was young and just starting out in the business. He did a lot of work for the Society and loves animals. When he opened up his own animal hospital we started going there and have been there ever since. He is like a family member. I hope you find a vet that you and Eko both are pleased with. Hugs and nose kisses

  11. I’m not sure there’s a magic formula, but I hope when you hook up with the right practice and the right vet your gut will tell you it’s right. Did you try asking the NJ vet if he knew anybody in Chicago? Ya never know…

  12. Lizard Jones says:

    Whatever you do, do NOT take Eko to a Benefield Clinic in PetSmart. We took our cat there one time, all they tried to do was sell insurance. Hardly looked at the cat and charged a fortune. Love PetSmart, Hate Clinic.

  13. stevebuddy says:

    Will it’s a hard choice.
    I was lucky and was referred to mine , but I.some times wonder about him ? He is somewhat of a old country vet and wonder if they are getting top treatment ? But he is great and does everything right in front of me with my dogs. I have been to.a.couple that would take my.dog out of the room to do stuff like draw blood and give shots, this I do not like.
    I have also used a great orthopedic surgeon for dogs in Norridge IL a.Doc Hammer, for the ACL on my dogs, three times and they all did great to.
    It’s just what you and Eko feels is comfortable for you guys.
    The one thing I would never be without is Health insurance for them, I been using VPI health insurance for my guys.
    They have been good, fast to pay, and great customer service. Like the ACL surgery cost around $3500, after I paid the vet, I sent the bill and paperwork in, and in less then two.weeks I had a check from VPI, my cost out of pocket was around $1100, for each surgery. Something maybe you and Eko to look into, my guys run.about $35 a month for coverage for each. When you think about it, that’s not bad.
    Well hope I helped a bit and good luck on your search.

  14. missingaspen says:

    When I had to start the process of looking for a vet with Aspen, I started with checking with my friends. I got their recommendations as to where they took their furkinds. Once I got their recommendations, I followed up with googling reviews on the practice to see what other people thought. You should talk with your friends as well as fellow pet owners at the dog park. I understand that this may not happen until it gets warmer in Chicago.

    When I took Aspen to the practices, I checked the facilities and observed the staff’s and vet’s interactions with my dog as well as Aspen’s interactions with them. In the end, Aspen went to 2 vet practices depending if it was a routine procedure vs emergency. At both practices, not only did they provide great care for Aspen but they took the time to make sure I was as comfortable as possible also. Looking back this made all the difference when I had to make the heart breaking decision to let Aspen, who went into kidney failure at 6yrs old, cross the rainbow bridge 3 months ago.

  15. A good vet is like a gift. We found our vet as one of our Huskies had a bad accident. He is a little far away but he was the one who saved his life once. And by now he was always fair and did a great job (that’s sometimes not easy with Easy)

  16. Way back in the day, when Mom was a broke college student she had a young “Chowbrador” pup named ‘Stormy’ who broke her hip in a bizarre accident. Mom barely had money to pay for annual vet visits let alone the major surgery that was needed for Stormy. Her vet cut her fees and found donations for Mom to cover nearly all the surgery fees and medications. Stormy lived to a ripe old age of 14. Because of that, I have the very same vet today. Mom’s been loyal to the same vet not only because of her compassion but also because she practices both eastern & western medicine, doesn’t tippy toe around delicate subjects, and is straight up honest with her clients. Just like human doctors, it’s equally important to have such comfortable relationship with your pet’s doctor.

  17. lexy3587 says:

    I chose my vet mostly based on location, but partly based on experience. My family had two cats when I was growing up, both indoor cats who hadn’t seen a vet since they were spayed/neutered (i know, shame on me, but they were healthy). When one got badly sick (at age 21) and was put down, the vet was AWFUL. tried to guilt us into invasive operations that wouldn’t drastically increase the cat’s lifetime, had additional charges for everything (including $20 for a cardboard box to take him home in to bury), and made us feel like the worst people in the world. When our other cat went a few years later, we tried a different vet, and they were wonderful, and have been wonderful since, with Gwynn.
    I figure any vet who doesn’t make you feel stupid for showing up with a perfectly healthy dog (now) who ‘i swear, was acting really strange and not right twenty minutes ago, are you sure he isn’t dying?’, and who your dog likes is a good thing 🙂

  18. With 17 animals I rely on many vets. The days of one vet who knows you and your pet seem to be over.

  19. Hi there,

    I teach canine first aid here in the UK and two of my Rhodesian Ridgebacks (Axl who is 9 and Chi his son who is 2) are my demonstration dogs for the courses. Ive written a book and have a website and Im running a photograph competition just now to find pics suitable to scroll through the top banner on our website. Somebody sent me a picture of a ridgeback wearing a stethoscope, hat and face mask staged in an ER and Ive been trying to find out where the picture originated – then somebody said they thought it was one of yours. I wondered if it is indeed your picture, if you would mind me using it on my Facebook page (obviously credited to you and your blog site) and if you had any other pictures that you might like to put on our website? Everything we do is force-free so I love the way you work with Enzo and would love to feature a link to your blog on our pages.

    If its not you and Ive got it all wrong, no worries but hey – LOVE your blog xx

    Kerry, Axl, Chi and Rain

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