Find the Right Caretakers for Your Animal

So you got a new pet and now it is time to be a responsible and devoted pet owner. Part of that responsibility is finding a good healthcare provider. You can choose between a veterinary clinic and a veterinary hospital. Neither choice is wrong; rather, it depends on what exactly you need when it comes to pet care. But what is the difference between vet clinic and hospital? What do those differences mean to you as a client? And how do you make the right choice?

How Animal Hospitals Differ from Vet Clinics

In human medicine, there is a big difference between a clinic and a hospital. However, in veterinary medicine, that difference is getting less and less distinct and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Many clinics are expanding their branches and are starting to provide the same services as hospitals. Nevertheless, those two terms can still be distinguished.

The first thing that comes to mind when comparing clinics to hospitals is the size of the facility. Yes, hospitals are likely to be larger in physical size, but that is only because they provide more services. In a nutshell, hospitals are classified as full-service facilities with more in-hospital capabilities, hospital services and treatment options. They also have more space for keeping sick animals overnight.

Clinics are part-service facilities that offer similar services, but not on the same scale as hospitals do. They focus on preventative veterinary medical care. They make the diagnosis, but usually lack machines for diagnostic procedures and refer patients to other hospitals. That works if the patient is not considered an emergency. Their surgical services are limited to minor and preventative procedures.

How to Find a Good Animal Hospital

It is advisable to conduct a little research and choose a veterinary hospital before an emergency occurs. You need to consider several factors, but the most important is how close the hospital is to your home and what types of services it provides.

Veterinary hospitals are rigorously inspected to make sure they are up to scratch. The boards and agencies that certify hospitals pay attention to several factors that may be useful in your research. These factors include:

  • Facilities: hospitals should be spacious with many rooms for different purposes. All environmental factors (light, temperature, ventilation, humidity) must be strictly regulated
  • Staff and levels of staffing: employed vets and nurses are obliged to undertake further training and studies to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date
  • Record keeping: hospitals have to keep accurate and up-to-date health records of all their patients
  • Equipment: the equipment should be of the highest quality, up-to-date and well-maintained
  • Pharmacies: good hospitals should have pharmacies stocked with a range of pharmaceuticals consistent with a good standard of practice
  • Libraries: the libraries should be filled with up-to-date books from standard and internationally recognized sources

Before making the final decision, you can schedule a tour of the hospital. Make an appointment and take your pet with you. On the tour, pay attention to all details. Once you have done your research and taken a tour, you can make an educated and well-informed decision.

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Services Animal Hospitals Offer

The typical modern veterinary hospital should offer a plethora of services, such as:

  • Radiology, preferably digital radiology.
  • In-house laboratory tests.
  • Laser surgery and laser therapy.
  • Oxygen therapy.
  • Electrocardiograms.
  • Ultrasound.
  • General-routine surgeries.
  • Specialty surgeries (abdominal, thoracic, ophthalmology, orthopedics).
  • Dental services.
  • Intensive care.
  • Hospitalization (with 24-hour monitoring).
  • Boarding facilities.
  • Rehabilitation services (hydrotherapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulations).
  • Specialized treatment options (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, stem cell therapy).
  • Fully stocked pharmacy.
  • Other modalities.

Benefits of Visiting Animal Hospitals

The main perk of visiting an animal hospital instead of a clinic is that you can have everything done at the same place without spending too much time. Being referred to another clinic or hospital for some diagnostic procedure and then going back to your initial clinic with the results can be time-consuming.

In emergency cases, time is of the essence and you cannot afford to go back and forth. Veterinary hospitals provide all services in one place. Therefore, their services are likely to be more expensive.

All in all, clinics are qualified to treat simpler and more basic procedures while referring out more involved cases. They are set up for outpatient types of cases.

Hospitals are full-service facilities that can deal with a vast range of health issues and situations. Therefore it is alright if some hospitals advertise as clinics, but to avoid confusion it is not recommended that clinics advertise as hospitals. However, it should never be assumed that veterinarians employed in clinics are less professional or care less about their patients. At the end of the day, what’s important is to find a vet you can trust.

After you've made your choice, let the vet take care of your beloved pet or refer you to a colleague if needed.