Mozo guides

How to find the best veterinarian for your pet

A Border Collie poses for the camera, dutifully holding a stethoscope in its mouth.

Your veterinarian is an important part of your pet’s life, from routine care to emergencies, so it’s essential to choose the right one for you. 

Here are some things to consider when looking for the best vet for your pet, especially if you have pet insurance.

Location

Native flowers and map trail on a green collage background

Firstly, look up the local veterinarians in your area. How close by are they? Can you get to them easily, especially during an emergency? These are important questions to ask before committing to a regular provider. Sometimes, there are no substitutes for sheer convenience. 

However, the best provider might not necessarily be the closest one to you, particularly if you need an emergency vet clinic. You may need to have more than one place to go if your pet gets sick or injured.

Qualifications

Recent college graduate vet

In Australia, veterinarians need specific licenses and qualifications to practice. This can include: 

  • A bachelor’s or postgraduate degree in veterinary science.
  • Registration with their local state board or health department. 
  • Additional state licenses, such as for operating x-ray equipment (radiology). 

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) keeps a list of the relevant authorities a vet will need to register with. You can look for registered AVA practitioners in your area through Vet Voice’s search directory. 

Some states allow national registration, so vets in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania can still practice in those states even if they are registered elsewhere in Australia.

A vet will also need an authorised microchip implanter number if practising in NSW, Victoria, and Queensland.

Any qualifications should be listed clearly on your vet’s website. You can check if the licences they have are legitimate with a quick Google search. If you have any concerns or complaints about a vet, you can voice them to your state veterinary board.

Specialisations

Vet holds up an x-ray for a confused Labrador, collage

What else can your veterinarian do? Some will be more like GPs (useful for routine care like shots or health checks), while others specialise in areas like emergency surgery or physical therapy. Consider your vet's specialisations and whether they could be right for you.

Vets can specialise in different animals, too. Some deal more with household pets, like cats and dogs, while others cater for farm animals like cows or horses.

Keep in mind that specialist vets, such as surgeons or alternative therapy practitioners, may need additional licenses.

Facilities and treatments

Surgeon vet ready for surgery collage

Different vets will have different equipment and facilities on hand. Some will only have basic care available for vaccinations or minor illnesses/injuries, while others will include emergency clinical services, physical therapy equipment, or overnight accommodation. 

Your pet may not need the full suite of healthcare facilities the entire time, but it’s still important to know where the nearest comprehensive vet is if your pet comes down with a more serious illness or injury, or has a preexisting condition requiring ongoing treatment.

Cost and insurance

A vet shakes an empty piggy bank

Different veterinarians will charge different fees, so it’s important to get an idea of how much a normal or emergency visit could cost. 

If you have pet insurance, you will also need to check whether your provider and vet are compatible. Some vets will only accept certain insurance policies, while others may be open but your provider doesn’t cover them. Make sure everyone’s on the same page about your coverage – before disaster strikes.

Personal fit

A group of different veterinarians

Often overlooked, it’s also important to rely on your gut instinct about a veterinarian. Qualifications, experience, and fancy equipment can be fantastic, but it’s also important to gauge how easy they are to work with. 

The best veterinarian will stay with your pet through thick and thin, from when they’re a cute puppy or kitten to the end of life. It’s never fun to think of the worst-case scenario, but checking in with yourself now could save you a lot of heartache later. 

Do you trust them to tell you hard news? Can you see yourself having important conversations with them?

Remember, ‘best’ is relative

Finally, while it’d be great to have The One True Veterinarian, there’s no such thing as perfect. The best veterinarian for you will depend on your needs and circumstances. 

Maybe value matters more than distance, or convenience trumps having all the bells and whistles. Weigh up what matters most to you, and if your first choice doesn’t work out, there’s always your second.

Compare pet insurance policies below.

Compare pet insurance policies - last updated 15 April 2024

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Evlin DuBose
Evlin DuBose
RG146
Senior Money Writer

Evlin, RG146 Generic Knowledge certified and a UTS Communications graduate, is a leading voice in finance news. As Mozo's go-to writer for RBA and interest rates, her work regularly features in Google's Top Stories and major publications like News.com.au.