You can use online review sites for one source of input. Of course, take online reviews with a large grain of salt. People complain about the oddest things when it comes to their pets. Another source of input is the local SPCA, humane society, and government animal shelters. Find out what veterinarians they use in the region when their on-staff veterinarians are not available or when cases are more complex than can be handled in the shelters.pochax wrote:thanks for the replies, i think we will plan to self-insure. regarding the advice to find a good vet, how does one go about doing that? do you have to interview every vet in a reasonable distance from home? word of mouth from friends who have dogs (but what if they just went to the first vet they visited)? is there a reliable vet review resource online?
Also consider "interviewing" veterinarian clinics before choosing one to use regularly. Ask about the costs for routine procedures (exams, vaccinations, spay/neuter, dental cleaning, etc). Ask about the areas of specialization for the veterinarian(s) and how they handle referrals if the pet needs care beyond what that clinic can provide (such as knee or hip issues for large dogs). Find out things like if your animal has to be hospitalized, what is the visitation policy (e.g. are the owners allowed in the kennel room or is the animal brought into an exam room for the visit) and how often does the veterinarian check on the animal.
And educate yourself on the common health issues for that breed of dog, what sort of preventative care is recommended to minimize those potential issues, and symptoms you should be watching out for. If you can catch a problem while it is still developing, it might be cheaper to treat. Being an educated and observant owner is an important part of pet care.