Having a great veterinarian as your medical expert and resource for your dog’s health, care, and wellness is an important part of Labrador life.
Your dog’s veterinarian is not only their go-to medical provider but also a critical partner in helping your dog have the best quality of life for as long as possible.
But how do you find a wonderful vet?
And why do costs vary so wildly for the same pet procedures among different areas?
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It’s enough to drive pet parents a bit crazy and cause more than a little frustration.
Read on for some tips on how to find the best veterinarian for your Labrador Retriever and what to ask next if you think you’ve found them!
Why Your Choice of Vet Matters
By far the most expensive aspect of owning a dog is the cost you’ll incur for veterinary care over the life of your pet. And with Labrador Retrievers having an expected lifespan of between 10-14 years, you’ll be shelling out a lot of money over their lifetime for medical care, even in a healthy dog.
Many dog parents, especially those new to the world of dog ownership, panic and become overwhelmed at how much and how often Labradors (or other dogs) need vet visits, treatments, and preventive wellness checks.
Finding the best veterinarian for your Labrador is an important part of the health and care of your dog. It’s critical to find the best care you can for your Lab while still keeping the cost of good care under control and within reason, as much as possible.
So how do you find a great veterinarian who loves your Lab, provides clear and thorough medical care, and keeps their costs within reason?
We’ll go over how to find a great vet for your dog and suggest some helpful questions to ask in your process of researching and selecting a great provider.
The Difference Having a Great Vet Makes
Your veterinarian is your best partner in the life and care of your pet. They are an advocate for helping your dog live as healthy a life as possible and reducing stress, pain, and hardship for your pet throughout their life.
Your choice of a vet can make a dramatic difference in your dog’s quality of life. They can influence much you spend on your dog’s medical care and what procedures they undergo.
A great vet can detect problems in your dog early on and potentially give your dog a chance to live a longer life. A marginal veterinarian might care for your dog adequately, but be frustrating or unreasonably expensive to deal with. A poor or negligent vet could actually cause harm.
A wonderful veterinarian can be a resource to help you with other aspects of dog ownership, such as identifying behavior problems, recommending puppy training classes, or guiding you to local services such as dog sitters, doggie daycare, or boarding.
They can help you manage pet expenses and give you reasonable expectations for the care and wellness schedule of your dog. The vet’s ability to give you breed-specific information relevant to your particular dog can help you better plan and prepare for what’s often an unknown and uncertain aspect of pet life.
Our current veterinarian is a Labrador Retriever specialist, which is extremely helpful in dealing with answering questions specific to Labs or other large-breed dogs.
Our vet sometimes gives us information about how the health and care of Labs differ from issues other breeds might have, and keeps us aware of particular issues that Labradors could encounter relevant to our location and climate.
We know a veterinarian in one of our prior locations who is an English Bulldog specialist and has many Bulldog families seek out his clinic specifically for his expertise with that particular breed.
It’s important to find the right balance between excellent health care for your pet and maintaining some control over the (sometimes extremely expensive) procedures and treatments you’ll find recommended as part of your animal’s care.
You’re putting a lot of trust and financial investment in your choice of veterinarian, and making the right choice matters.
How to Search for a Great Veterinarian
When you’re ready to begin your search for the right vet for your Labrador, there are a few great ways to get a lot of information and recommendations quickly:
Start with getting recommendations from friends, family, and other dog lovers.
If you belong to any local groups, seek them out for advice, suggestions, and recommendations for veterinarians and clinics.
If you’re new to a location, try looking for referrals from social media groups that specialize in dog events or focus on Labrador Retriever owners.
Check out online reviews and profiles of any clinics and veterinarians you’re considering, keeping in mind that sometimes online data won’t always be the most accurately updated.
Look up a license with your state board for veterinary licensing found here.
Try reaching out to the local Labrador Rescue in your area to find out which veterinarians they use and what vets support the mission of the rescue.
Join a dog school or puppy training classes and ask other pet parents who they’ve used for veterinary care in the area.
If you take your dog to the dog park, ask other dog owners or Labrador parents who they used for vet care for their dog and if they’d recommend them.
Questions to Ask a Potential Veterinarian
When beginning your search for a good veterinarian, there are a few helpful questions we recommend you ask to find out if they might be a good fit for you and your dog.
While prices and financial costs are always a consideration, and frequently where most people focus their questions, it’s important to ask questions beyond price to make sure the vet matches the type of care you’re looking for.
We recommend you ask some of the following types of questions to a potential veterinarian you’re considering.
What is your treatment philosophy in general?
You want a veterinarian who is open about their treatment philosophy and collaborative about providing care.
If you’re the kind of person who wants heroic, all-out, drastic lifesaving measures and treatment for any issues your dog could potentially have (and that’s fine if you are!), make sure your vet shares that overall view and that they are supportive of that.
Having lived all over the United States with Labradors, we’ve personally encountered a wide variety of veterinarian treatment philosophies.
Some clinics are more passive and relaxed in their treatment methods, while others are extremely involved and aggressive for any medical interventions.
Some vets aim to provide the exact same level of care that human clients would receive if they went for medical treatment. Others do not.
This may align or clash with your personal philosophy for pet parenting, so it’s important that you’re aware of how the clinic or vet presents their mission statement or overall guiding philosophy, and use that to determine if they’re a good fit for you.
How many veterinarians are on staff? Will I always see the same vet or be given any vet available?
Some people want to establish a long-term relationship with the same doctor for their pets. If this is a concern to you, make sure that the clinic is able to make this type of scheduling request possible or you’ll just become frustrated.
What are the typical fees and costs for wellness care for my breed of dog? Do you charge an exam fee for shot-only appointments?
Most veterinarian offices will have a typical guideline of how much their most frequent appointment fees run, such as exam fees, vaccinations, and pet microchipping.
Some clinics will only charge for vaccinations and not an additional exam fee if you’re just bringing your dog in for shots only at certain appointments. This can keep costs down if that’s a concern for you.
What is the usual schedule for wellness care in a given year? Do you recommend semi-annual or annual vet wellness checkups for dogs like Labrador Retrievers?
Many veterinarians used to suggest an annual wellness visit, but many vets are going to twice a year semi-annual checkups. Ask which schedule the vet usually suggests.
What are your hours? Do you have 24/7 coverage for emergencies?
Make sure the vet clinic’s operating hours and location are feasible with your work and personal schedule.
As for emergency coverage, this is a huge, huge question most people forget to ask. No one ever likes to think of their pet having an emergency, but if you’re a Labrador Retriever owner it’s something you should definitely consider!
(Read More: Our Lab Almost Died from Eating an Avocado)
The cost of an emergency vet visit can be astronomical, and you’ll want to know whether your vet is open or whether you’ll be sent elsewhere to an after-hours clinic or emergency facility.
Do you charge extra fees for sick pets or urgent care appointments the same day?
Some veterinarians will charge you an extra fee if you have a sick pet, or if you call to make an appointment to get in the same day. Ask about these fees to be prepared ahead of time.
Am I able to call the vet techs with questions?
The veterinary techs who work with your veterinarian will be one of the best resources for you as a Labrador owner. Find out if the vet clinic you’re considering allows you to call (for free) with questions and speak with the techs to go over concerns over the phone.
Do you accept pet insurance?
While not required, pet insurance is something that certain pet parents choose to purchase, either when they welcome home a young Lab puppy or adopt an older rescue Labrador later on. Also, you might decide you want to buy it later, and you don’t want to find out your vet doesn’t accept it.
Make sure that your veterinarian accepts your pet insurance before you start receiving treatment to prevent any unpleasant financial surprises later on.
Finding a great veterinarian is an important part of life with a Labrador Retriever. Getting access to great medical care and a partner in managing your dog’s health is a really critical aspect of having any dog, especially a Lab.
Take the time to research veterinarians, get recommendations, and ask a few important questions to help find the best match for both you and your dog.