Pet Columns, Office of Public Engagement, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Tips on Choosing a Veterinarian


Pet Column for the week of August 19, 2010

Related information:

Related site - Primary Care
Services - Human-Animal Bond

Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
Julia Disney
Information Specialist

Source - Dr. Kandice Norrell
We want the best in health care for our family members, and that includes our pets. But how do you find the veterinarian who's best for your furry friend?

Dr. Kandi Norrell, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and the primary care veterinarian in the University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, has several tips.

Whether you are a first-time or long-time pet owner, the first step is locating the clinics in your area. You can begin by taking a look in the local yellow pages and then move on to websites that feature reviews and ratings, such as Yelp or Google. But, Dr. Norrell says, you may need to take those reviews with a grain of salt: They can be biased or skewed, depending on who took the time to post on such sites.

Dr. Norrell notes that word-of-mouth recommendations can help you find the veterinarian for you. Do you have friends in the area with pets? Ask them where they go, how they like it, and if they would recommend that you take your animal there. Their firsthand experience is invaluable.

If you need to find a veterinarian because you've just moved to a new community, find out whether your veterinarian in your former location has a suggestion. "The world of veterinary medicine is small — often your previous veterinarian can recommend a former classmate or colleague in your new area," says Dr. Norrell.

You can also check your state's Department of Professional Regulation website to verify proper licensure of new veterinarians and also find out whether any complaints have been formally filed against them. Your state's Veterinary Medical Association website is another way to find veterinarians in your area who are members.

After you've found a veterinarian, the next step is to give the clinic a closer look. Dr. Norrell says, "Take a look at the services they offer and see how that matches with your needs." Here are a few questions you may want to ask:

  • Are the clinic's hours compatible with your work schedule?
  • How does the clinic handle or refer after-hours emergencies?
  • How easy is it to get an appointment?
  • Do they offer other services, such as grooming, boarding, and training classes?
  • How do they collect payment? Do they offer payment plans or CareCredit?


The most important thing, however, is the sense that you get when you enter the clinic and when you meet with the veterinarian. Is the clinic clean? Is the staff friendly? You should feel welcome when you arrive.

Once you meet with the veterinarian, you should feel comfortable talking to him or her about your pet and any questions or concerns you have. And, perhaps most importantly, you should be aware of how the veterinarian interacts with your pet; ideally, your pet will be given the same care and attention that you would expect to receive from your own doctor.

Taking the time and effort to form a relationship with your veterinarian is one of the best ways to make sure your pet is healthy and happy.