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As a pet parent, you are the most important person in your German Shepherd’s life – but your veterinarian is not too far behind! A phenomenal vet is the key to a happy, healthy life for your dog. So how do you find a good vet in your area for your German Shepherd (and for you)? Research, research, research!
We live in an online world, but the search for a stellar vet goes far beyond a quick internet search. Sure, a Google search for “German Shepherd vet near me” is a great place to start – but this is just a START. Too many people stop there and end up unhappy with the vet they choose for their four-legged family member.
Remember, your furry pal is counting on you to make the right decision! No pressure – just keep reading. This article will give you lots of pointers and cover everything you need to know about how to find a good vet in your area for your German Shepherd.
Why is locating a good vet important?
Your German Shepherd’s health is the number one reason to spend the time and effort in locating a good vet. As your pet’s primary healthcare provider, a veterinarian needs to be able to meet all your dog’s medical needs.
Your vet is also responsible for keeping up with your dog’s health records and advising you on preventative care for your dog during all stages of its life.
For many pet parents, it’s also super important to find a friendly, caring doctor and staff. You want to establish a long-term relationship with your vet so make sure you choose someone that’s willing to listen and answer questions. And someone who truly loves animals!
Yes, it requires time and effort to find the best doctor for you and your German Shepherd, but that’s why you’re here, right? You’re doing your research and getting your ducks in a row to ensure a happy, healthy life for your furry pal.
When should you locate a vet?
If you’re thinking about getting a German Shepherd, find a vet before bringing your new four-legged family member home. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you have an emergency to frantically search for a vet – you may sacrifice quality care for your dog if you wait until the last minute.
If you already have a German Shepherd, there are other reasons you may be searching for a vet.
For example, you may be relocating and want a vet closer to your new home. Or you may be unhappy with your current vet and are searching for someone that better meets the needs of you and your German Shepherd. Or maybe you just want to brush up on your knowledge to make sure you are providing the best care possible for your four-legged family member.
Regardless of the reason you are searching for a new vet, you should find someone before your German Shepherd actually needs one.
How to find a good vet in your area?
When I decided to add Allie to the family, the search started for a great German Shepherd vet near me. As you’ll read in my story a little later, I already had a potential vet in mind. But I still did all my due diligence to ensure I was making the best choice for her.
Here are all the things you should consider and the steps you should take in locating a good vet in your area.
1. Ask other dog owners you know
It’s hard to beat good ole fashioned word-of-mouth. Get recommendations from friends or other trusted people you know who love their pets just as much as you do.
Keep in mind, the person you ask may not have done all their due diligence when they picked a vet, so you still need to do your own research. Nonetheless, this is a great jumping-off point for your search.
If you already have a vet you love, but you’re moving away, ask your current vet for recommendations as well.
2. Determine how far you are willing to drive
This is a common-sense question to ask yourself – do you want to devote hours driving to and from the vet? At first glance, this may not seem like a huge issue. You typically only go to the vet once or twice a year, so why does it matter?
But consider the distance in case of an emergency. In this situation, you don’t want to be hours from your vet.
Also, consider your dog – does it hate long car rides? This may be hard to know if you don’t have your GSD yet, but I think it’s better to air on the side of caution just in case your pup gets car sick on long rides.
If you can make a quick drive (or even walk) to visit your vet, that’s a big plus – but don’t sacrifice quality for convenience! If the closest vet clinic doesn’t tick all the boxes on your checklist, you may want to expand your search a bit to make sure you get the best quality healthcare for your German Shepherd.
3. Do research online for your target area and read reviews
Now for a type of research most everyone is familiar with – head over to the internet and see what you can find.
Google “Good veterinarian near me” or “German Shepherd vet in [insert your location]” to get a starter list, and then narrow down your search from there.
Websites like Yelp or Angie’s List are other great online tools. These sites will include reviews and other helpful information. You can also search the American Animal Hospital Association’s website (more on this later).
Sometimes a veterinarian’s profile or hospital website will indicate that the vet has experience with German Shepherds. When I was researching a vet for Allie, her current vet’s profile showed that she had two German Shepherds of her own. A huge plus!
4. Check to make sure the clinics you find are AAHA accredited
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is an organization that accredits animal veterinary hospitals that maintain high standards in a variety of areas. According to the website, “An AAHA-accredited hospital goes above and beyond… they consistently provide the safest, highest quality care.”
You can also use the AAHA website to search for accredited hospitals near you. This is a great place to start your online research!
5. Visit local veterinarian offices within the area you are willing to travel
Visiting the veterinarian’s clinic is arguably the most important step of the process. Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a couple of potential veterinarians, call and schedule a visit (without your dog).
While there, ask if you can have a quick tour and meet some of the veterinarians that work at the hospital. Typically, most vets will be more than happy to show you around.
This is a great time to chat and ask questions to determine the expertise and experience levels of the staff. You can also get a general feel for the staff and vets to help you decide if this place feels friendly.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while you are visiting the facility.
- Do you feel comfortable there?
- Are the facilities clean? This applies to the waiting areas, exam rooms, and any “behind the scenes” areas (if you’re allowed to see them). A good vet should be transparent.
- Do the dogs seem comfortable? What about the people in the waiting room?
- Does the equipment look up-to-date?
Communication with your vet is super important! Make sure you feel comfortable asking questions and that the vet and staff take the time to listen and address any concerns you may have.
In the next section, I’ll go over a list of questions you will want to ask during your visit (if you can’t find the answers online).
Other things to consider before deciding on a vet
We’ve covered some of the big considerations on locating a German Shepherd vet near you, but there are still lots of other questions you need to consider.
Here is a list of questions to find the answers to when doing your research and visiting veterinarian offices.
- What are their office hours? Do their hours work with your schedule? Is someone on call after hours in case of an emergency?
- Can you make an appointment with a specific vet? The answer to this question should be yes!
- How long does it take to get an appointment? Can you get a same-day appointment in emergency situations? I’ve had one emergency with Allie (turned out to be a sprained paw), and her vet saw her immediately – that is outstanding care!
- What is their telephone policy? Do they answer questions over the phone? Can you leave a message for your vet and expect a return call?
- If your German Shepherd needs to stay overnight (for surgery, boarding, etc.), how are overnight guests monitored and where will your dog be kept? Will your GSD have an area to exercise?
- What services are offered on-site? Do they have a network of specialists if needed?
- What are their payment options? Do they offer payment plans for expensive procedures or treatments? Do they accept pet insurance plans?
- Do they have a sample price list? Or you can ask for a cost estimate for an appointment you know your dog will need. For example, if you are getting a puppy, ask about prices for its first wellness check and shots.
My Story: How I Found Allie’s Vet
Before Allie came into our lives, we had a big loveable Rottweiler named King. Later in his life (around 10 years old) he got sick. At the time, we used Banfield Pet Hospital, a company that owns and operates a large network of veterinary clinics, as our local vet.
(Side note: I’m not saying all Banfield vet clinics are bad, but this particular one was not the best. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time.)
We took King in to get him checked out, and they recommended a bunch of expensive tests and even a huge, risky surgery. Now keep in mind, King was 10 years old at the time – he most likely didn’t have a shot at surviving an intensive surgery like this.
Needless to say, we were distraught and frustrated. I decided to do some research online, and I found another animal hospital close by. I called the clinic and asked if they could review my boy’s file.
I was hoping for an honest opinion on his needs and his chances of recovery. They reviewed his file and returned my call that very same day. The news was not good – King had cancer and it had spread to the point where surgery was not going to be successful. Of course, I was devastated.
Devastation aside, I truly appreciated the honesty in this tough situation. I didn’t want to put King through a risky surgery if there was little to no chance of it being successful. I decided right then and there that if I got another dog, this would be the first vet on my list.
Of course, before I brought Allie home, I visited the office in person and did more follow-up research using all the steps described in this article. Unfortunately, we didn’t go through this vetting process (pun intended) when choosing a vet for our Rottweiler, and this could have made a big difference in the end.
After putting in the work and asking all the right questions of this new potential vet, we knew she passed with flying colors! And she is still our vet to this day.
Allie has had some health issues and challenges, and her vet has gone above and beyond to help us. It’s evident that she really cares for Allie as more than just another patient (she even tells Allie she loves her now when we visit).
This is exactly the kind of vet I want everyone to find for their German Shepherd!
One of the best decisions I’ve made for Allie was to do my research and find a phenomenal vet. Now that you know how to find a good vet in your area, you can do the same for your German Shepherd – you won’t regret it!
Do you have a story about a truly outstanding vet that goes above and beyond? I’d love to hear it!