Ever wonder what to look for when finding a veterinarian, animal hospital, veterinary hospital, animal clinic or animal hospital? There are so many. How do you know which one? What to look for in their websites? Is the website an accurate representation of the vet and the hospital or clinic?
Well, Main Street Veterinary Clinic is a virtual veterinary pet care website that will try to guide you in what to look for when evaluating vets and also their clinic or hospital websites.
Does the animal hospital or clinic have the services you need for your pet? Why do we keep using the words animal or veterinary "hospital" and animal or veterinary "clinic"? Is there a difference?
When looking at a vet's website, one of the first things you want to see, very clearly, on the homepage is is their "NAP" - Name | Address| Phone Number
This information needs to be clearly visible and placed "above the fold" - the area that is visible without having to scroll. Ideally the NAP should be on every page.
Try to evaluate the services you might need for your pet. Not all veterinary care practices have the same services and capabilities.
One large distinction you should consider is the type of pet health care facility it is. What does that mean?
First, ask yourself if the veterinarian's practice is either a "veterinary hospital, "animal hospital", "veterinary clinic" or "animal clinic". Now there is not a real difference between "veterinary" or "animal". However, there is a difference between "hospital" and "clinic". Generally, a "veterinary or animal hospital" is what you will see referred to as a "full service" hospital. This means that the hospital provides all the possible and generally latest veterinary medical procedures available.
These vet facilities, not only do the routine wellness examinations and preventative pet health care, but can hospitalize, treat all types of emergencies, have in-hospital diagnostic laboratory equipment, radiographic (many digital radiographic) machines, possibly ultrasound, can hospitalized critical patients, perform general and more complicated surgeries, provide dental care and extractions, usually have more than one veterinarian, have a larger support staff (receptionists and veterinary assistants), provide boarding services and tend to be larger facilities. In cases, these full service veterinary or animal hospitals will also perform more advanced veterinary medical procedures such as fine needle cytology, laser surgery, cold laser therapy, stem cell therapy and rehabilitation.
In contrast, a "veterinary clinic" or "animal clinic" tend to be smaller veterinary facilities and many times are single vet practices. The practice may have two veterinarians but that is usually it. A "clinic" tends to concentrate on on the wellness and preventative aspects of veterinary medicine. Their focus is to rather prevent diseases than have to treat them, especially complicated illnesses or injuries.
They generally are not geared to critical hospitalization and will refer out many cases to specialty and/or emergency vet practices. They generally do not perform in-hospital laboratory or blood analysis. They will send the needed samples to an outside veterinary laboratory. The surgeries performed are generally minor and routine, such as spaying and neutering. Most have x-ray capability but some don't. Some vet clinics are associated with an "animal hospital". The veterinarian could own both vet practices or the clinic may have an agreement with the hospital. The patient is transferred to the hospital and the radiographs are taken there. This can also be true for more in depth diagnostic procedures, if needed. Many will perform routine dental cleaning but may not do more complicated extractions.
Even tough there is a difference, by definition, there are those "vet clinics" that are more of a "vet hospital". The distinction between the two types has been getting less clear over the years.
In reality, probably 80% of the patients seen at an "animal hospital" could very well be handled at an "animal clinic". A critical or seriously ill or injure pet will still get the proper care. These patients will be referred by the clinic vet and will receive the needed care.
Cost wise, veterinary or animal "clinics' fees tend to be lower. This usually is a goal of a clinic. Because they do not have as many veterinarians in the practice, less support staff and don't have all the additional space and more sophisticated equipment, the overhead to provide veterinary pet care services will be less.
You need to consider where you take your pet, if it is not a dog or cat. Now, there are some veterinarians that will only see cats and don't want to deal with dogs. However, if you need veterinary care for a pet that is not a dog or cat, you will need to do some research. Probably the vast majority of the small animal companion vets focus on dogs and cats. Birds, rabbits and other exotic pets will not be seen or treated by a vet solely treating dogs and/or cats.
You will need to find a veterinarian that has a strong interest in these special pets and has some special training or experience. Generally, the basic veterinarian education does not include much about birds and other alternative pet species. Some veterinary colleges do offer specialize courses that an interested student can take.
Below are listed comparative services that may be offered at a vet hospital versus a vet clinic. The third column are some of the more specialized services that only a few veterinary care facilities may offer. It just gives you an idea what is available today in the field of veterinary medicine.
Preventative Parasite Control
More Complicated Surgeries
- complete blood count
- serum chemistries
- complete urinalysis
- fine needle aspirate
- contrast studies
Preventative Parasite Control
Stem Cell Therapy
Cold Laser Therapy
House Call Services
Blood donor services
Integrative vet medicine (Holistic)