Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. While Budget Direct has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it. Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.

For so many of us, our pets are part of the family. And as a fully-fledged family member, we want to make sure they get the quality medical care they need.

A professional veterinarian should be able to look after your pet’s routine healthcare needs, foresee and manage potential medical issues, provide appropriate preventative care, and handle pet emergencies as they arise.

Overall, they can make a huge difference in helping your furry friend live a long and healthy life, so it makes sense to take the time to find the right one!

Here are our top tips for choosing a veterinarian in Australia.

See all of Budget Direct’s pet insurance guides.

Finding your nearest vet

Finding a clinic, after-hours emergency vet or specialist centre close to home isn’t just convenient – in an emergency that proximity could save your pet’s life. In this case you’ll want to choose a practice that’s easy to drive to and has an ample amount of parking available.

Finding out which type of care your pet needs

Just like our own doctors, some veterinarians are general practitioners, and some are specialists in their field. They may focus on dogs, cats, horses, and other large animals. Others specialise in the care of birds, wildlife, and exotic animals.

There’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ veterinarian, so please do your research. From common cat diseases to toxic foods and plants your dog should not eat; it’s important to ask questions and choose a vet that understands your pet’s individual needs and medical conditions.

Checking accreditation and experience

Make sure to find out where your vet is accredited. Vets are accredited through the state board of veterinary surgeons in their state (i.e. Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland).

They can also be members of the professional association AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) or a particular special interest group to demonstrate proficiency in a particular field (i.e. International Society of Feline Medicine).

Some veterinarians choose to be specialists, acquiring further accreditation, after becoming a vet. Specialists include ophthalmologists, oncologists, dermatologists, orthopaedic surgeons, diagnostic imaging specialists etc.

You’ll also need to know where your nearest specialist hospital and services are should your pet ever need to visit one. Your regular vet should be able to help you with suggestions or recommendations for nearby specialist clinics.

Personal recommendations

Choosing the right vet comes down to trust. You want a veterinary practice with a proven track record of treating pets well and dealing with people professionally.

Make sure to talk to other pet owners and those who work in the pet industry, including groomers, pet-sitters, and kennel owners. They should be able to give you some outstanding recommendations.

Once you’ve got a shortlist, you can start contacting veterinary clinics and ask them any specific questions that you may have. Whichever clinic provides the answers you’re most comfortable with will go to the top of your list.

Visiting your closest vet

Visiting a vet clinic can be useful, not just to ask questions in person but so you can meet some of the staff. This will help you get a feel for the place and find out what kind of facilities and services they have to offer.

Most high-end veterinary practices will have ultrasound and X-ray machines, dentistry equipment, eye pressure, blood pressure monitoring systems and IV infusion pumps.

If the clinic has facilities for keeping pets overnight, it’s important to ask whether they have overnight monitoring. Make sure that they have established emergency procedures, protocols and find out whether the clinic provides any extra services like cat boarding or puppy training.

You can also inquire about soft tissue or orthopaedic surgery or holistic care (if you’re interested in alternative therapy) and after-care support!

Developing a comfortable rapport

It’s important to develop a comfortable, communicative rapport with your vet. If the communication doesn’t feel right, for any reason, that could be a sign you need to look elsewhere.

The right veterinarian will be able to interact in a friendly and caring manner with your pet, other pet owners and clinic staff.

One of the most important parts of being a good vet is being able to effectively communicate with clients (and you) about your pet’s health. This is especially important when complex medical terms or conditions need to be translated into language that can be easily understood.

Compare prices

The cost of owning a pet in Australia can be on the pricier side and new pet owners over time will learn about the fluctuating veterinary prices in Australia. In Australia vaccinations specifically range from $85 to $130.

Whether the practice is franchised or independent can make a difference in the price structure too.

No matter which vet you end up choosing, it’s worth looking into pet insurance. It can certainly help deal with those lofty vet bills that may come up during your pet’s lifetime.

See all of Budget Direct’s pet insurance guides.