15 Red Flags-Time For a New Vet!

Wondering if you need to take the plunge and find a vet? How do you know when it’s time for a new vet? Maybe you’ve been with your vet for decades and they’ve seen nearly all your pets. Perhaps you’ve even built a relationship of sorts with your vet. But still, something is nagging at you that doesn’t feel right. You may be torn by your loyalty to your long-time vet and your love for your dog. Well, there may come a time when you need to cut your losses and find a new vet.

In this article, I’ll walk you through 15 of the most common red flags to look for if you are pondering making a vet switch.

a cute yorkie thinks it's time for a new vet
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Budget tip:

If you don’t feel like you are able to be a partner with your vet helping to achieve your dog’s health goals, then it’s time to get a new vet. Remember you can look into such things as Pet CreditCare or Pet Insurance for your dog’s vet care services. But one of my favorite tips for pet healthcare costs is with a pet savings account.

Basically, you open a savings account, and add a little each month, maybe $10-25 or more depending on your abilities and your dog’s needs. It will add up over time. The key is that it’s only used for your dog’s medical care. So, whenever it’s time to go to the vet, you pay with it from that savings account. It’s very similar to a Health Savings Account for humans, but for pets. You can even add the monthly payments into your dog’s budget. Or the best way to do it is to have it automatically withdrawn from your checking or savings and added to that account monthly. Either way, make sure you account for it on your dog’s budget.

1. Vet is a long car ride away from home

If you’ve recently moved 30-60 minutes or more away from your vet, but you’re debating about keeping your vet then it may be time to look more locally for a vet. Keep in mind those emergencies and bad weather situations. It’s nice to have a great vet within 10-15 minutes of home, if at all possible.

Note: As an example, Henry’s current vet is less than three minutes away from home. One of his emergency care vets is 20 minutes away from home. Although, with snow, an emergency vet visit can easily become 40 minutes. 

2. Veterinary office, facility, or rooms are dirty, unsanitized, or smell nasty

This is just completely unacceptable. Remember this is a health facility for your pets. So, it must be clean and sanitized. Otherwise, your dog could get sicker. In fact, if your vet, staff, or any vet tech is exhibiting an unhealthy veterinary practice, I’d advise you to contact your state veterinary board. It could prevent your dog or another pet from becoming sick unnecessarily while visiting this veterinary clinic.

3. Rude vet, vet tech, or staff

There is no excuse for the vet, vet tech, or staff to be rude. Although, keep in mind, that you also shouldn’t be raising “canine” without just cause. With that being said, I always say it’s much easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. So, try to keep the temperature down. But if the vet or staff is nasty by nature, then it’s time to move to different veterinary services. You can rest assured if the staff is rude to you, they’ll be rude to your dog as well. Thus, you’ll want to find a new vet.

4. You feel like you are put on the defense 

Generally, when you take your dog or pet to the vet, you want to get help for your furry friend. You should be considered a partner in your dog’s health care. Not an adversary. For example, if the veterinary team says your dogs teeth are great, but then rudely lectures you on dental care that’s not acceptable. You’re obviously doing a great job with your dog’s dental care.

This goes for any part of the vet appointment or even asking for your dog’s medical records. The veterinary team should always be professional with you and your pet. If you feel like you’re put on the defense at any point and especially if it’s a continual type of experience, then it’s time for a new vet.

5. Your dog isn’t shown any TLC by the veterinary team

No matter the reason your dog or pet is visiting the vet, he or she shouldn’t be treated like a moving box. Your furry friend is precious and deserves respect. You can easily relate this one to how your date treats the waitress at a restaurant. If your date ignores or mistreats the waitress, then the date probably isn’t worth a second date. So, for your vet, it’s a good idea to notice if the medical staff is talking to or petting your dog. Or if the vet is interacting with your dog in a friendly matter. If not, then it may be time to find a new vet.

Note: Henry’s current vet even has a line on his bill called “TLC”. Which, of course, is free. It always makes me smile though to see that little note. I know Henry is well loved by the vet and the entire veterinary team. 

6. Ownership change and veterinary clinic changes

You probably won’t find this happening a lot, but it does appear to be occurring more than it used to a few years ago. This is when a bigger veterinary group will buy out a smaller vet office. When this happens the entire policy of the smaller office will most likely change. You may notice changes that you don’t like, or you don’t feel comfortable with these changes. If this occurs, then it may be time to find a new vet.

7. Nearly impossible to get your dog a timely vet appointment when you express a concern 

If you call your veterinary office in the morning with a concern about your dog, how quickly can you get your dog into be seen by the vet? Is it that day or weeks later? For example, I recently called my vet’s office early in the morning with a concern about Henry itching in parts he never has itched in the past.

Since he’s on a very strict diet, I was worried about what to give him. The veterinary team was able to book an appointment later that day. Henry was with his current vet a few hours later. If you are put off by the veterinary team on more dire issues, such as not eating, not drinking, vomiting, or worse, for days or weeks, then it’s time to look for a new vet.

8. An unwillingness to help give options with the bill 

If you’re on a tight budget, will your veterinary office give you suggestions for helping with your bill, especially if you’re handed a large bill? This could be Pet CareCredit or even in-house financing or some other option. You can even ask the front staff and they should be able to provide you with payment options. If no options are given and this is a big concern for you, then it may be time to start your search to find a new vet.

9.  Rushed in and rushed out with little attention

Do you feel as if you’re on a timer once the vet enters the room with your dog? For example, your vet will address the one issue or what the main concern is, make a few notes, and quickly dash out before anything else is even mentioned. Remember your dog’s health is at stake. There shouldn’t be a time clock. The examination of your pet should be done thoroughly. However if this quickie rushed appointment sounds familiar, then it may be time to look for a new vet.

10. You don’t feel comfortable with the vet

Does going to the vet give you anxiety? I’m not talking about your dog. But you. How do you feel about going to your dog’s vet? Not about what’s wrong with your dog, but the vet, staff, and office. Do you not like something or someone, but you can’t put your finger on it? Your reaction is a “gut thing”. It’s your intuition. It’s been said many times, never go against your intuition. If YOU feel uncomfortable with your vet, the staff, or even the building, then it’s time to find a new vet.

Note: The last time Henry was at his regular vet, I handed him a poop bag from Henry and said, “You always scare the poop out of him.” It was meant as a joke. However, the vet thought I said, “You scare the poop out of me.” which caused his face to turn bright red and his eyes to get as big as saucers. He was going to fix the issue immediately! Actually, a great response to what he thought he heard. I quickly explained it was Henry and he chuckled. 

11. Vet and vet tech aren’t available or won’t answer questions

This should be an easy red flag. If you ask a question of your vet and he or she won’t answer it or avoids it, that’s a giveaway. Or you call the veterinary practice and ask the veterinary team a question and they won’t answer or refuse to find an answer and get back to you, it’s another giveaway. They don’t know, they don’t want to know, or they don’t care. Any of those answers are unacceptable. It’s definitely time to find a new vet.

Note: When I’ve called Henry’s current vet office even with a simple question, often the vet himself will call back at lunch or in the evening. This is the type of vet you want in your corner for your dog’s health. 

12. Veterinarian and veterinary team don’t listen

This is one of my biggest pet peeves in life in general. You talk, discuss something, and whomever you’re talking to tunes you out even though they are feet away.

For example with your dog, you may want to know exactly how much new food or how to properly give a new prescription to your dog. Yet, you don’t get an answer. Or you tell your vet you are walking your dog daily and the vet turns around and says “you need to walk your dog daily”. Of course, if he were listening, he would’ve heard you say you already are doing that with your dog.

Now, think of this in a more life-threatening situation. For example, if you asked if you should give your dog a Benadryl daily and only received a “sure” it could be dangerous. When I asked Henry’s vet about Benadryl, his ears perked up and he said, “Only give him 1/2 of a 25 mg twice daily. And only when he has allergy symptoms.” It’s all in the details. If the vet hadn’t said how much and how often for Henry’s weight, it could be harmful to him.

Basically, if you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, it may be time to find a new vet.

13. Vet doesn’t give you options on your dog’s care

Your vet should have many options for helping your dog. Not just a shotgun approach to your pet’s healthcare. This could even be with basic pet care tips or preventive care.

As an example, Henry’s current vet even gave me a suggestion for how to successfully change his bedtime routine with was changed with his new diet.

Note: As another example, a few years ago Henry was attacked by a couple of dogs. There was a possibility he’d need additional eye surgery. We finally got to the point of having to make a decision. Henry’s vet laid out three options. One was to continue to wait a year or so and then proceed with surgery. Another was to do the surgery now and possibly more in a few years with scars and no guarantees of success.

The final option was to do daily compresses, monitor his eye, and stay the course. Each option had its own unique pros and cons. I asked the vet what he’d do if Henry was his dog. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Henry is a great dog. If he were mine, I’d take option three. He’s doing great with this approach. I wouldn’t put him under undo stress.” That’s a great vet partner to have in your dog’s healthcare. 

Another example of a lack of pet care options given by a vet

I used to have a mobile vet for my horses. Unfortunately for me, every once in a while she’d go on vacation. One time she was out of town when one of my horses got colic. I called her on-call backup vet. The mobile vet came out and simply said, “you’ve got to put him down immediately!” There were no options! I rebutted her and told her the steps she needed to do for him. These were the steps I’d seen my regular vet take many times.

Once I convinced her to do that, Macho was back to his normal self. And yes, I was firm with her, but I had no choice at that point. Macho’s life was at stake. Rest assured that vet never returned to my barn. And my regular mobile vet didn’t put that vet on her call list. So, if your vet doesn’t give you any options for your pet’s care, it’s probably time to find a new vet.

14. Vet or staff made an error with your pet

This one goes without question. If you’re taking your dog to a veterinary clinic and the vet or vet tech makes an error, especially if it’s a critical one, then you MUST find a new vet.

For example, a few years ago, I took my cats to have their teeth cleaned. I told them one of my cats didn’t do well with anesthesia and to watch her very carefully.

Unfortunately, they overdid the anesthesia, then tried to correct their error, and in doing so, blew out her kidneys. She died shortly thereafter. As a result, I got a new vet.

So, if you’ve had a vet who made any errors with your dog, even if not a critical error, it’s time to find a new vet. If you give your vet or veterinary practice the chance, the next error might be critical.

15. Your dog doesn’t get better or gets worse

If your veterinarian keeps prescribing different things for your dog, yet your dog is continuing to get worse or isn’t improving. Then it’s time to switch gears. Think about it, are you helping your dog by staying with this vet? Even if the vet is nice? No. So, if you’re not helping your pet by taking them to the vet, which is the purpose of a great vet, then it’s time to find a new vet.

Related posts:

Summary of 15 red flags to know when it’s time for a new vet

Most likely you are not experiencing all 15 of these red flags. Or at least I hope you are not. If you are, then run to find a new vet! My goal is to show you a few red flags that will indicate that it’s time to look for a new vet. You may even want to stay with your current vet while you’re in the search process, depending on the red flag.

Remember, sometimes it’s difficult to break a relationship, even with your vet. Especially, if you’ve been a lifelong client. Unfortunately, time changes everything and it can change your veterinary care, the veterinary services, the vet tech services, or the veterinary practice overall. If you aren’t comfortable with your current vet, anything is setting off your “doggie senses” then it’s time for a new vet. You know it. However, change can be difficult. In the end, know that it’s best for your dog. You’ll be happier and less stressed in the end as well.

frenchie dog knows it's time for a new vet

Have you experienced any of these red flags with your vet? As a result, did you find a new vet? 

12 thoughts on “15 Red Flags-Time For a New Vet!”

  1. My Vet Clinic just separated from the the SPCA and became private again but most of the vets have stayed so am blessed. Last week when Layla hurt her paw I saw a new vet as my regular one was on holiday but she was great and really great with Layla, my vet is back and I am blessed that I can email her or call and leave a message which she always calls back which makes life less stressful for Layla and me.

    • I’m so glad to hear you and Layla have such wonderful vets. I love that your vets will call or email you back. That’s always very helpful when you’re concerned about something.

      I hope Layla’s paw gets better soon. Poor baby!

  2. Not all vets were created equal. I’ve learned that the hard way. This is a good list, though some of those things may or may not be on mine. For example, distance makes a difference for emergencies, but for complicated care, it might be better to travel further.

    We still go to see our old vet–6-hour-drive away for some things, even though we do have a local vet.

    • You are right. Everyone needs to be comfortable with vet. So, if you feel that the best vet for complicated dog care is 6-hours away and you’re comfortable with that drive, then that’s perfectly fine. I know as a horse person, if you have a super complicated procedure you need for your horse, then the best place around is UC Davis. That’s about 3 hours away. However, if it’s a critical thing but you still need to make that trip with your horse, most vets will get the horse stable and advise the owner of the risks. It doesn’t sound like you’re in that situation. Each case, as you know, is unique. I’m glad you have such great options in your area.

  3. Great list and so important! People ned to think long and hard if they are not happy with their vet.

    We had bad experience with a British vet (horrible people) but are blessed with a good vet here.

    • I’m so sorry to hear you had a bad vet experience. Such an experience will certainly make a pet owner a lot more cautious and protective. I know it did with me.

      I’m glad you have a good vet now. They can be a priceless resource!

  4. Oh my gosh, that is just so horribly tragic that you lost one of your cats because they mixed them up and gave it too much anesthesia! I’d have lost my mind. I am so sorry for your loss…

    Great list…I was so very fortunate that I had a wonderful vet team for my dogs and my mother’s dogs. They were literally situated in backyard! (Okay, a block behind my house). They were so wonderful that my Gibson (who was there often and had many house calls due to his epilepsy, so we was often poked and prodded but with such care, whenever we went on our walks, he would lead me – guess where? – yup, right up to vet’s door! He loved them and always plied them with his Gibbie kisses. They were that caring and when he passed, they told me of all the animals they saw over the years, he was so well loved by them. Gibson had that effect! But that is how wonderful they were. Not to mention, I had their personal numbers and could call or text any time. Case in point, when Gibson was rushed after hours to ER vet and I did not agree with their care (he was dying on the table, she wouldn’t listen to me about his being an Epi until I finally said “he needs to be cooled down, he is dying!” and finally got a cool towel and fan). I placed a call to my vet at 2:30 in the morning and he answered and called them and followed his directions until we could transfer him a few hours later to his office, which he opened early just for us. They not only cared for my dogs, they were full of love and the dogs felt it. When we moved with my remaining two, I did worry so much about it as we moved way out of the area, but I did find a wonderful new vet who did house calls and was wonderful with my two. xo A relationship with our vets is so very important.

    GREAT article and I’m sharing with others!

    • That is so awesome to have a vet that is so good. Those types of vets are priceless! Truly! That is amazing to be able to call your vet at 2:30 am and have him help you and then open his clinic. That’s a testament to that vet, Gibson, and you. I really LOVE hearing stories like these. I hear so many horror stories about vets. We need more great ones. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. And thank you for your continued support!

  5. Hello, yes this paragraph is actually nice and I have learned
    lot of things from it on the topic of blogging. thanks.

    • I’m glad my article on the red flags that tell you it’s time for a new vet was helpful. Good luck with finding a new vet!

  6. Thank you so much for your article! It certainly has convinced me to do what I have been knowing in the back of my mind for a while, which is find a new vet. Mine is wayyyyyy too overpriced, the staff at the desk is rude (I often hear them talking about other patients and their humans in a not so nice fashion) and I always always feel rushed when we finally get called into the exam room.
    The last vet I had taken my dog to was an emergency spca vet hospital because we didn’t have a regular vet for her yet. She had come down with a bad case of worms very very very fast and I was really scared, so July 27th 2021 we took her in. After waiting for literally 6 hours her name was finally called. Due to covid they weren’t allowing pet parents to go into the exam rooms with their animals. About 10 minutes after bringing her in, they called us back to discuss their findings (where? In the exam room of course, which makes no sense, if you are going to bring us in to discuss your findings, why not let us in the exam?) Anyhoo, he said that he wanted to put her on heartworm medication to make sure she doesn’t get them in the future, and was going to give her deworming medicine for what she currently had. He then tells us that he needed to draw her blood to make sure she didn’t have heartworms now and I told him that because she has such bad anxiety (which he had already seen firsthand) that I should be there because I know that she will be a lot calmer that way. He said no, against the rules. I should have argued or just said to forget it, but I didn’t want to make a scene and wanted the very best for her, so reluctantly I said ok. About 8 minutes later my boyfriend and I heard this horrible sound that I hope I will never hear again, it honestly sounded like a dog being hit by something really big and heavy, a cross between a yelp and an extremely painful bark. My bf and I looked at each other and I immediately knew something was wrong. Not even 2 minutes later a little bald man came out with a clipboard and said to me “We need to know if you want us to continue doing CPR on your dog” I said “Im sorry, what?” And he repeated himself to which I replied “WHY THE F**” ARE YOU DOING CPR ON MY DOG?!?!?” He told me he ‘can’t talk about it’ and ‘time is ticking, yes or no’. “YES, OF COURSE, YES YES YES YES” I said. I was hysterical at this point and had never felt so helpless in my life. I honestly don’t know how much time had passed from that point until the vet finally came out and told us “I’m sorry, in all of my years of being a vet, I have never seen anything like this happen”. He said that he didn’t know what happened, she just died. She was a very very healthy 2 year old border collie and her name was Raven Shadow. Now she sits in a box up on a glass shelf, when she should be outside playing with other dogs at a dog park, or snuggling with me at night. I don’t know what they did to her in that exam room, or what that horrible noise was that we heard, but something went very very very wrong. They closed down less than a year later and had been open for almost 20 at that point.
    Sorry for venting a little, but it makes me feel a little better when I do.

    • OMG!!! I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences with the vet. My heart breaks for you, your boyfriend, and Raven Shadow, which by the way is a super cool name. I can’t imagine that cry being burned into your brain. That’s truly awful!!! I’m glad they were shut down. It sounds like they needed to be closed at the very least.

      I remember taking my dog to the vet during high COVID. Gosh, it stressed me out because I had to wait in the car and couldn’t even go inside with him. But I also have a very good vet and he personally came out to the car with Henry and explained everything in great detail. There was never an emergency during this time. If there had been, would’ve lost my mind.

      While I’m certain it’s not easy, know that you did what you thought was right at the time, given the information you had presented to you. One of my favorite quotes of all time is: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou.

      I will say, I’ve a few bad vets. I’ve also fired each one. I don’t regret any of the firings. I’d do it again. I tend to not give a vet more than one chance when I get a red flag. That’s me though. My personality. You need to do what you feel is right for you and your dog or furry friend.

      I truly hope that the red flags presented in this article have given you some enlightenment. Also, check out my article on how to find a great vet (10 Steps to Find the Best Vet). They are out there. And you and your dog deserve a great one!

      And finally, you’re not venting. You’re telling your story. Continue to do that. You and Raven Shadow need to do it.

      If you can, please check back, email me, or comment with an update, and let me know how you’re doing and how your search is going for a new vet.

      All my best!


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