Adding a new pet to your family is an exciting time, full of discovery and fun. Part of taking care of your new furry family member is planning for their medical care. As soon as you arrange to adopt a pet, it is a good idea to choose a veterinary hospital that will oversee their care. There are many factors to consider, including convenience, cost and services provided.

Most people know a pet needs vaccines, but not everyone thinks about the care a pet might need over the full course of their life. Can your provider remove a mass? Can they treat a tooth abscess? What if your pet ingests a foreign object and needs emergency surgery? One thing that we have noticed is often overlooked is if the clinic will be able to help in the event of a catastrophic illness or after-hours emergency. This is why we strongly recommend talking to your provider about emergency care before you are ever faced with this situation. Many people choose facilities that offer a limited range of services at a low cost. While you may save money in the short term, you could find out that they are unable to see your pet for an emergency or more complicated medical problem, leaving you without care when you need it most.

A full-service veterinary hospital is the equivalent of all of a person’s doctors in one building-everything from annual wellness checks and routine surgery to dental cleanings to treatment of illnesses and emergency care. The hospital must maintain the staff and equipment necessary to provide these services, and they may charge more than a facility that offers limited services only. The patients benefit because their provider knows their full medical history and personality, and the clinic prioritizes their patients’ needs, which may make the doctors unavailable to care for pets who are not established with the practice.

How you choose your veterinary provider is unique to each family. We hope this information will help you to consider the care your pet might need over their full lifespan, and equip you with questions to ask any provider you are considering. We wish you many happy and healthy years with your pet!