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No matter what your reason for changing veterinary practices, there are some basic steps you can take to find a new doctor for your pet. If your breakup is logistical — you're moving to a different city or neighborhood — ask your veterinarian if he can recommend someone in your new area. Your veterinarian not only knows your pets and your expectations of service, he also knows other veterinarians and can often be a good matchmaker for you.
If your veterinarian isn’t able to make a referral — or if you are not parting on terms that make you feel comfortable asking for one — talk with pet-owning friends or relatives and get their recommendations. It’s always great if you can go to someone who has been vetted, so to speak, by people you trust.
Finally, if you can’t get a personal referral, look for a veterinarian whose clinic or hospital is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). An AAHA-accredited clinic must meet certain standards of care, such as requirements for presurgical assessments, anesthesia monitoring, preparation for emergencies and more, as well as participate in regular on-site evaluations.
Once you find a clinic you like, set up an appointment for an interview. Be sure to do this before your pet needs care — you don’t want to try a new clinic on an emergency or last-minute basis. Make sure you like the veterinarian and staff, that you are comfortable with their “petside” manner, and that you share a similar philosophy of care. Even if you disagree on things such as what to feed or the frequency of vaccinations, you should still feel like the new vet respects and is willing to work with you.
When you are ready to make the move, call your current veterinary clinic and ask to have your pet's records transferred to the new clinic. Be prepared with the snail mail address, phone number (including area code), fax number and email address. Having your dog's or cat’s medical history on hand at the first visit with the new clinic will give the new veterinarian the information he needs to provide appropriate care for your pet.
Finally, if you are leaving on good terms, take the time to thank your veterinarian and individual staff members for the great care they gave your pet. Who knows? Someday you might be back.
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