Qualifications and Experience

First and foremost, ensure that the veterinarian is properly qualified. Look for credentials such as membership in professional organizations like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Iowa Veterinary Medical Organization (IVMA). Experience is also helpful; a veterinarian with several years in practice is likely to have encountered a wide range of health issues and developed expertise in various areas.


Some pets may require specialized care. If your pet has specific health needs, such as a chronic condition or a breed-specific issue, finding a veterinarian with specialized training or experience in that area can be beneficial. Many vets pursue additional certifications in areas such as surgery, dermatology, dentistry, or exotic animal care, which can be valuable depending on your pet’s needs. Many hospital teams have training in fear-free practice and cat-friendly handling.

Services Offered

Consider the range of services provided by the veterinary clinic. Comprehensive services, including preventive care, diagnostics, surgery and advanced imaging, are advantageous. Some clinics also offer boarding and nutritional counseling. Choosing a veterinarian who can address all aspects of your pet’s health under one roof is helpful.

Location and Accessibility

The clinic’s location is an important factor for convenience and emergency situations. Ideally, the clinic should be within a reasonable distance from your home. Check the clinic’s hours of operation to ensure they align with your schedule. Some clinics offer extended hours or urgent care services, which can be crucial for unforeseen health issues.

Personal Comfort and Communication

Your comfort level with the veterinary office is essential. During the initial visit, observe how the veterinarian and the team interact with your pet and address your concerns. A good veterinarian should be patient, approachable, and willing to explain diagnoses and treatment options clearly.

Facility Cleanliness and Staff Professionalism

The condition of the veterinary clinic can reflect the quality of care. A clean, well-organized facility is a positive sign. Additionally, the professionalism and friendliness of the staff are important as they can be liaisons and helpful resources in your pet’s care.

Cost and Payment Options

While many wish to compare the costs of veterinary care, apples-to-apples comparisons are rare. Instead of understanding the clinic’s pricing structure, ensure cost estimates are provided before treatment is initiated. Inquire if the clinic offers payment plans, pet insurance acceptance, or preventative care packages that can make veterinary care more affordable.