What to expect when you visit the vet

When you call or visit your veterinarian, you can expect to be asked for information about your animal and details of its medical history, especially if this is your first contact with that particular vet.

You can expect to receive a fairly accurate estimate of costs for routine procedures such as vaccinations and desexing. If the situation is more complex, it may be harder to estimate what the ultimate cost will be. Your vet will give you an idea, though, and keep you informed as the diagnosis and treatment proceed.

Unlike your local doctor, veterinary hospitals have a wide range of equipment on-site, and usually offer all the necessary diagnostic tests and treatments in one place. If there's a serious problem, your vet might recommend a visit to a veterinary specialist who has particular expertise.

You can also receive prescription medication for your animal from your vet, along with helpful advice about how best to take care of your animal - feeding, socialising, exercise and training.

It's important that pets have regular health checks at the vet. Dogs and cats age much more quickly than humans, and it's important to catch problems early if you want to ensure a long and happy life for your companion animal.

More about annual health checks

If there's an emergency, most veterinarians have arrangements to take care of your animal after hours. As with any after hours service, this may cost more than you would pay during normal hospital opening hours, just as it does to call a locksmith or plumber in an after hours emergency.

Many pet owners take out health insurance for their pets so that they can afford to have their animal treated in an emergency or for a major illness.

More about veterinary fees

Finding a good vet

It's very important that you find a vet and establish a good ongoing relationship to get the best treatment for your pet. Why not ask your prospective new vet whether they're a member of the Australian Veterinary Association?

There are some great benefits to using a vet that is a member of the AVA. This is because AVA members commit to a Professional Code of Conduct which means high ethical standards for people and their pets. Members also take advantage of continuing education programs to keep up on the latest techniques and research, which is important for your pet’s health and treatment.

The AVA offers a community for vets to network and to share ideas, to find out who is offering breakthrough treatments or alternative options, and vets can use this information to better treat pets. Check out our Find-a-vet service for an AVA member near you.

Complaints

If you have a complaint about the service you've received from your veterinarian, you should raise it directly with the vet first. You can ask to see the practice manager or principal veterinarian for the practice if you're not comfortable talking directly to the veterinarian.

Veterinarians are accountable to a veterinary registration board in the same way that doctors are accountable to a medical board. If you're not satisfied with the response, you can contact the veterinary registration board in your state or territory. Veterinary registration boards have the power to investigate professional complaints against veterinarians and impose disciplinary action if required. Any member of the public can contact his or her veterinary board to discuss the service they've received from a veterinarian.

List of state and territory veterinary boards and councils

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