Finding the right vet

Team of veterinariansWith so many vet clinics in the densely populated urban areas in which most of us live, it can be hard to know which one will be best for you.

Below is a guide that will alert you to things to look out for and help you to ask the right questions.


Distance from home

How to choose a vet Bow Wow Meow


When searching for a vet for your pet, you will most likely look at a clinic in your area, and it’s a good idea to choose a practice not too far away from your home. In case of an emergency, that can be life saving.

If you don’t drive, or if your pet gets stressed out by car trips, a vet within walking distance of your home is a great choice.  Also consider the public transport connections or availability of parking if you will be driving there.


Personal recommendations

Most vets are genuine animal-loving people. Some are perhaps a bit quirky, but in general they are very friendly and most concerned with the wellbeing of the pets in their care.

However, choosing the right vet for your pet is a matter of trust. Speak to your family and friends in the community and ask them for advice and recommendations. Pet professionals such as kennels, trainers, groomers or pet sitters will often have a list of vets they recommend.


Find a vet online

There are strict protocols for the registration of vets in Australia, and a quick online search can help you find registered vets who are practising in your area or to confirm whether a particular vet is indeed registered.



Once you have a short-list, call or visit the veterinary practice and ask them specific questions about the care you would like to receive for your pet.

Enquire how many staff there are, including the number of vets and vet nurses.  If there are a number of vets, will you be able to choose who you want to attend to your pet, or is it the luck of the draw? If numerous vets are treating your pet, how can you be sure of consistency of care?


Vet nurses and assistants

Choosing the right vet clinic Bow Wow Meow

Do they seem knowledgeable about and sensitive to animals? If possible, visit the clinic in person to observe how they interact with other pet owners and their pets.

Also ask about the longevity of the medical and nursing staff. Staff members who feel empowered to do good medicine and nursing care tend to stay with a practice longer. And find out more details about the experience the staff has.


Specialist Vets

Vet practices often carry out a variety of medical and surgical procedures but there are times when they will need to refer you to a specialist, e.g. for an MRI scan or specific medical treatments. Ask if your vet has any specialists and what their expertise is. If your pet suffers from a medical condition that requires specialist treatment, or you have an exotic pet you may want to make sure your new vet has expertise in this area or will be able to refer to you a specialist.


Medical equipment

Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions. You want make sure that your vet clinic has access to standard equipment such as x-ray and ultrasound machines, dentistry, in-house lab tests, IV pumps, blood pressure and eye pressure monitoring, and is able to send out labs. Do they have any special equipment that may not commonly be found at other vet clinics?

Veterinarian Surgery Room


If you are interested in any areas of health care specifically for your pet you want to make sure you address them in your first conversation.

It is also important to enquire about emergency procedures and facilities, and what happens after hours. If your pet will stay overnight, ask how their monitoring system works. Other areas of interest might be how patients are evaluated before anesthesia and surgery and what protocols they use for pain management.


Extra services

Many vet clinics provide extra services like puppy training and cat boarding. It is also helpful to inquire how your vet will support you in any type of after care in your pet’s treatment (fact sheets, advice etc).


Medical approach

If you are interested in alternative treatments, ask if you vet offers holistic care and if so, what services are on offer.


Have a look around

A tour of the clinic can be very helpful and insightful. You want the facilities and equipment to be modern, clean and well-organised. A good clinic will be proud to show you around.



Be clear about your expectation of communication with your vet. Can the doctor or technician provide you with timely answers to questions relating to your pet’s health? If your pet is hospitalised, how will you be kept up to date and can you call for updates?

Don’t be shy in the first meeting, you want to see if this vet is the right for your precious pet and you. And most vets appreciate if their clients have an interest in their pet’s health care. Make sure that even during consults and treatments you feel well informed and any of your questions will be answered clearly.


Very important: the soft skills

You want to know that your pet is well looked after and it important that the vet and their staff treat your pet sympathetically and seem genuinely interested.

Observe how the vet and staff interact with animals in the clinic. Are they friendly, calm and assertive? It may be a good idea to introduce your pet in a casual, friendly manner to the vet and/or staff before you make your final decision, to assess their reaction (the staff and your pet’s!).

How to choose the right vet Bow Wow Meow

It is important that you have a rapport with your vet and that you feel comfortable to trust the vet with your pet. If you don’t feel right about it, maybe keep looking around. The last thing you want when your pet is sick is to be concerned about not trusting the vet.


Welcoming environment

veterinarian with clients and french bulldog

Ask the vet clinic staff if they encourage dogs and owners to come in just for social visits. Some clinics have an accessible scale and encourage regular weighing pop-ins. Apart from the benefit of monitoring your pet’s weight, this exercise can help anxious pets feel more relaxed in the vet clinic.

Do they have healthy pet treats freely available? This can also help to distract anxious pets and reward those who are behaving appropriately.

Do they have enough seating in event of having to wait? Are there separate areas for seating so as to keep animals apart from each other?



You want to look for a clinic that has opening hours that are convenient for you. Find out if they are open long hours and on weekends.

It is also important to understand where your pet will receive emergency treatment of outside of normal hours. If not at the clinic itself, with which emergency clinic does the vet work?


Wait times

Find out how long in advance you generally need to book a non-urgent appointment. Ideally, you would like to know that this more in the range of a day or two than a week or two. You don’t want a vet or clinic that is so busy you can’t get an appointment for ages, but nor one that is so quiet that you hear alarm bells.

Also find out if they reserve any time slots for urgent appointments, and if not, what you should do if you require a same-day appointment and the clinic is fully booked?


Unsure how serious it is?

Bow Wow Meow policy holders can get a complimentary VetChat consult membership which gives you access to 24/7 online vet consults. If you are unsure about any symptoms your pet is experiencing, or have any concerns about your pet’s health, you can contact them anytime via video or live message.

Find out more about our pet insurance options


Fees and charges

Vet prices can vary a lot depending on the location and facilities.

Ask the staff for a list of costs and included services for routine treatments like dental, vaccination updates and annual check ups. In case of a specific treatment, ask if costs for post-op checkups are included.

Don’t just shop around for the cheapest price but look at all the services/treatment they offer as part of the price.

Importantly, if you have a Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance policy for your pet, find out if the vet clinic is a GapOnly® partner. This means that the vet staff will lodge the claim while you are at the vet, allowing you to pay only the ‘gap’ between the vet’s invoice and the claim benefit under your policy, rather than the whole amount upfront.


Things to remember

Once you have found the right vet practice for your pet, you can establish a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with your vet by following some basic rules:

  • Don’t forget preventative visits. You vet will appreciate if you come in for annual check-ups and not just when your pet is ill.
  • Pay attention to your pet and learn what is normal for it and what is not. You want to be able to recognise first signs of illness and not wait until the pet is really sick. Don’t wait days or weeks to see a vet when your pet has a problem, it may be too late. Many conditions can be treated more effectively and less invasively if professional care begins sooner.
  • When your pet is unwell, monitor it and note any symptoms in detail – this will help your vet immensely when making a diagnosis.
  • Book in appointments and be on time.  Lateness is not polite and also disturbs the clinic’s schedule.
  • Bring your pet to the vet in a carrier or on leash if it is a large pet. Let your vet know if your vet is very anxious and may need muzzling. Safety is of utmost importance.
  • Treat your vet’s time with respect. Don’t contact your vet after-hours for matters that can wait. In case of an emergency, accept that your vet may not be available to see you but will happily refer you to an emergency hospital.

A pet insurance policy with Bow Wow Meow will help ensure you can always afford to give your pet the best treatment and management for many health conditions.




*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.