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What to consider when choosing a vet.


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How to choose a veterinarian

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Here we explain all the things you should consider when choosing a vet, from what facilities they have on-site to whether they have a specialist interest in your exotic pet. 

There are lots of things you should consider when choosing a veterinarian. One of the most important factors is the location of the practice. It is best to pick a local clinic so that you do not have too far to travel in an emergency or if your pet is really sick.

You should consider what the out-of-hours provision is like. All practices will have 24-7 veterinary care in place for your pet, but sometimes this involves travelling to a larger clinic further away. Generally, this is because these have great out-of-hours facilities, but it should be feasible for you to take your pet there in an emergency.

What facilities does the practice have on-site?

There are excellent local veterinary practices that might not have the equipment on-site to perform certain surgeries or procedures, as they send patients to a larger, main practice for these. Again, you should make sure that you would be able to transport your pet to the main clinic if it was necessary.

Have you got a more unusual pet?

Every vet is qualified to treat all species, but certain vets might have a special interest in treating unusual species (known as exotics). Although you can be confident that any vet will provide a great level of care, an exotics vet will have a bit of extra experience. You can ask your local practice whether they have any exotics vets or can recommend a clinic that do.

What questions should I ask a new vet?

You can ask your new vet whether they have any pet health plans or benefits that you should be aware of, such as puppy socialisation sessions. You should also find out whether there is parking on-site or nearby, so that you can plan your travel. It is useful to find out what number to dial in the case of an out-of-hours emergency.

How do I choose a vet for my cat?

All vets are qualified to treat cats, and every other species of animal. There are some vet practices that specialise in only treating cats. Other clinics are accredited as ‘Cat Friendly’ by International Cat Care. These practices aim to make vet visits less stressful for our feline friends and are likely to have special things in place such as designated waiting areas for cats.

Can you use more than one vet?

You should not use more than one vet, as this can make quality of care very inconsistent because the vet practices will have incomplete medical histories for your pet. This might also result in errors such as performing your pet’s annual boosters at both practices.

If you are on holiday and your pet requires veterinary attention, this is an exception, and most clinics will be happy to register your pet as an emergency. However, they will need your permission to gain medical records from your usual practice.

If you are referred to a vet specialist, or want to seek a second opinion, then you will see a vet at another practice or specialist centre. It is best to arrange these appointments through your usual veterinarian, as they can ensure that the correct records are sent over.

How do I check veterinary credentials?

All UK vets are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). You can use their ‘Find A Vet’ feature on their website ( to search for a vet, and this will tell you whether they are registered as UK-practising and what their registration date was.

How long is a veterinary licence good for?

Once a vet has qualified from university their degree does not run out. All vets must complete a set amount of continual learning each year and maintain their RCVS registration.

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