So, you’ve got new orders in hand and the movers have arrived. You are anxiously watching to ensure they don’t break anything while simultaneously thinking ahead to what will possibly get lost in the Bermuda Triangle, that is otherwise known as the back of the movers truck, to be lost forever. But while you are throwing a travel bag in the car, thinking about how far you can drive in a day and making sure your pets are secured for travel, have you thought about who will care for them once you have arrived to your new duty station?
You probably haven’t given it much thought. There are so many other things to worry about, that quite often families arrive to a new duty station, begin the process of unpacking, and Fido and Fluffy happily pee on their new surroundings without seeing a vet until they are sick.
This is very common, and as a vet tech, but also a military spouse, I not only see it where I work, but understand how and why it happens. But before you end up sitting in an exam room with me in the ER because none of the vet offices you called had openings for new clients, let’s talk about how to find a new vet in your new home town and talk about a wellness exam to set up your future relationship with them.
Choosing a vet is a lot like choosing a doctor
- Be sure you are comfortable with the person you are seeing. If you visit a vet office and don’t like the doctor, don’t take your animals there. Even if he/she has the best medical practices in the entire world, if you don’t like them, you will never have a good relationship with them.
- Ask for recommendations from other families on base. Searching a doctor online is going to give you all the horrible reasons everyone hates them, but is not likely to give you reasons people do. Not many people go on Yelp to praise someone. Ask your new neighbors why they like their vet to get the good reports that will help you sort through the bad ones better.
- Consider the species of your pet. Do you have a cat, a dog, a bird or 5 gerbils? Not every veterinarian sees every species. And there are a lot of areas that offer feline only clinics, which can be a great option to minimize the stress our kitty friends feel when visiting the dreaded V word.
- Consider what you are wanting in vet care. Do you like to do annual wellness exams and yearly dental cleanings? Or do you generally only take Fido in when he’s not feeling well? If you are the latter, you probably will find clinics that offer wellness plans and push annual exams difficult to deal with and should consider looking for clinics that are more accepting on your beliefs and vice-versa.
- Ask to take a tour. Before Fluffy ever sees a doctor, take a tour. See what they offer, how you like the clinic and your impressions of the staff. That can make or break your desire to use them to care for you furry family member.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good vet and his/her staff should want to answer any questions you have about their practice, their services and anything else you might want to know (assuming it’s not asking questions that might be construed as free vet care). If they are hesitant to answer your question, I would look for someone who isn’t.
Regardless of how often you take your furry, scaly, or bald family members in to be seen by a veterinarian, you absolutely should do a wellness exam when you arrive to your new home. Many vets are finding that their books are full and may not be seeing new clients. Others aren’t able to squeeze in sick animals for same day appointments if they have never been seen at the clinic before.
So before you end up in an ER paying ER prices for care, set up a new client/new patient exam to establish care with someone. It will not only ensure the Fluffy, Fido, Slithery, or Squawky is in great health and made it through the journey unscathed, it will also allow you to become educated on your now local laws regarding licensing of pets, vaccination protocols and other such information that tends to vary by region. Some areas have different common illness and concerns, and will thus require different vaccinations. Some states require licensing and other don’t, or it can vary by city or county. These are all great things to find out from your families new veterinarian. Just be sure to let them know that you just moved to the area and need all that information.
Then, after your visit, you can feel confident about your pets vet care and that they are healthy, happy and ready to live in your new home.