Austin may have been your dream town, but if you think about it, your pet is the one living the dream. That little bundle of fur (or feathers) is probably living in a glorious pet-friendly apartment, next to a beautiful greenspace, and just down the street from a cozy coffee shop that happens to love dogs. So, let’s not ruin their day by telling them it’s time to go to the V-E-T — at least not until you’ve found the best vet in Austin.
Use the tips below to choose the right veterinarian for your furry, finned, or feathered family member. Then, check out the list of stellar animal clinics that will take the best care of your best friend.
6 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Vet
Every person, pet, and practice is different. So, before you dive into suggestions for the best vet in Austin, learn what to look for on your first visit. Doing these six things will help you decide whether a particular vet is right for your particular pet.
1. Make Sure the Clinic Specializes in Your Kind of Pet
Look for a veterinarian who’s spent their career working with your pet’s species. Don’t take your chinchilla to a vet who specializes in cats and dogs, and don’t take your chihuahua to a vet who specializes in chickens. If you have several pets of different species, you’ll need multiple veterinarians to get each animal the best care.
2. Watch How the Veterinarian Approaches Your Pet
Going to the vet is a frightening experience for most pets. A good vet is concerned with every aspect of your pet’s health, both mental and physical — after all, a calm pet is easier to treat. Take care of your animal’s emotional well-being by finding a veterinarian who is Fear-Free Certified and who follows these best practices.
A Fear-Free vet will avoid direct eye contact, be careful not to lean or crouch over your dog, meet your dog at ground level, and give your dog treats before and after treatment (as long as your dog’s diet allows for it).
It’s common for veterinarians to treat large dogs on the floor rather than lifting them onto the table. However, even small dogs will be more comfortable when treated on the ground. If your vet asks you to put your dog on the table, ask if they can treat them on the floor instead.
You can help make your cat’s experience better by using a hard-sided, plastic carrier with snap-lock buckles, and by crate training your cat so they learn to think of the crate as a safe space.
A plastic carrier with snap-lock buckles will allow you to easily disassemble the crate, so your cat never needs to leave their safe space. Your veterinarian should never reach into your cat’s crate and drag them out. Once the top half of the crate is removed, you or the vet tech can firmly hold the cat in place.
Cats can be picky eaters, and veterinarians don’t always have cat treats in their office. Bring along your cat’s favorite and give them treats before and after treatment. (Always check with the vet to make sure it’s okay for your cat to have treats with their vaccines or medication.)
For Very Scared Pets
If your dog is especially scared of the vet but isn’t afraid of other animals, it may help to find a veterinary clinic that also offers doggy daycare. This can help your dog associate the vet’s office with fun instead of fear.
If your pet is still sacred, consider using a vet who makes house calls. Your pet will naturally feel more comfortable in their own home. However, it’s not usually possible to get full-service care during a house call, so you will likely still need to know where to find a good veterinary hospital.
3. Consider How the Vet Responds to Your Questions
Pet parents should feel just as comfortable with their veterinarian as their pets do. A good veterinarian is interested in educating pet parents. They should answer all your questions, and you should never feel like you’re inconveniencing them.
4. Ask What Type of Care the Practice Offers
Veterinary medicine has come a long way. In addition to traditional services like vaccines and spay and neuter operations, look for a full-service veterinarian. An animal clinic that offers advanced veterinary diagnostic testing, physical therapy, behavioral counseling, and nutritional counseling will provide the best pet care. They will also be more likely to consider the causes of your pet’s ailment, not just the treatment.
5. Look Around the Waiting Room
This may sound trivial, but your vet’s waiting room can tell you a lot about the practice. So, look around.
It’s common for veterinary clinics to rescue animals in need. Of course, any rescued animal should be well cared for. If your vet has rescued small animals, they should be kept in spacious and clean enclosures. If your vet has rescued cats, they shouldn’t be allowed to wander in and out of exam rooms where they could stress out other animals or encounter an unfriendly dog.
Beyond that, the waiting room should look and smell clean. This will give you an idea about the cleanliness of the entire facility.
Also, check for items for sale. Veterinarians will sometimes sell food and other pet care products. In particular, many vets carry prescription pet food or high-end products that are hard to find in local pet stores.
If your vet sells prescription pet food, it can make them more likely to prescribe that food because they will profit each time you make a purchase. Prescription pet foods should only be prescribed for serious conditions and as a last resort. For more common conditions, there is usually a cheaper or higher-quality alternative.
For example, a veterinary clinic that sells prescription pet food may recommend a prescription food for skin allergies, but generally allergies can be addressed with a less-expensive, limited-ingredient dog food or with a more nutritionally complete whole-food diet.
If your vet doesn’t sell prescription food but does sell high-end products that can’t be found in local pet stores, consider whether or not you agree with the products they stock. If your vet sells behavioral aids, are these aids recommended by animal behaviorists? If they sell non-prescription pet foods, are these foods made with high-quality, recognizable ingredients? The products your veterinarian sells can give you insight into the values of their practice.
6. Find Out How They Fill Prescriptions
Some veterinarians have on-site pharmacies or stock common prescription medications. If you need a one-off prescription for an emergency situation, this is an asset. If you need a recurring prescription, like heartworm or flea and tick medicine, you might save money by using an online pharmacy. (But, some veterinary clinics will do their best to price match, so it never hurts to ask.) Either way, your veterinarian should never pressure you to use their in-house pharmacy.
The Best Vet in Austin for Every Pet and Every Part of the City
Now that you know what to look for, you’re ready to go out and find your pet’s very own Dr. Dolittle. Here are a few places to start.
These practices have first-rate, friendly veterinarians. They always have treats nearby for your best friend. And for you, they smile through all your nervous, “What’s up, Doc?” jokes when you’re worried about your fur baby (and answer any other questions you might have).
Since you’ll want your veterinarian nearby in case of emergency, this list contains the top cat and dog clinics in every part of the city. Plus, it features recommendations for a small animal vet and an emergency animal hospital.
Best Vet for Cats & Dogs in South Austin: South Park Animal Hospital
615 W Slaughter Ln., #121
South Park Animal Hospital is dedicated to creating a low-stress environment for your pet. The clinic has Fear-Free Certified veterinarians and a cats-only wing.
This pet hospital has six doctors of veterinary medicine and offers complete veterinary care, including preventative medicine, dental care, cardiology, dermatology, internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, and surgery. The practice is also committed to educating pet parents and answering pet parent questions.
Best Vet for Cats & Dogs in East Austin: PAZ Veterinary East
2400 E Cesar Chavez St., #100
Paz Veterinary is a full-service animal clinic that practices integrative medicine. In addition to using Western veterinary medicine, they look at your animal holistically and consider lifestyle factors and natural solutions. They’ll help you find alternatives to medication or additional therapies you can use in conjunction with medication.
All of Paz’s veterinarians are Fear-Free Certified. The practice offers vaccines and preventatives, internal medicine, herbalism and acupuncture, animal well-being and psychology, dermatology, radiology and ultrasound, dental care, and surgery.
Best Vet for Cats & Dogs in North Austin: North Austin Animal Hospital
5608 Burnet Rd.
This practice offers preventative care, spay and neuter services, sick and injured animal care, dental cleanings, chemotherapy, and surgery. In addition to their five board-certified veterinarians, they have a certified practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine who can help pet parents looking for alternative therapies for chronic conditions or for conditions that haven’t responded to traditional, Western veterinary medicine.
This office also offers doggie daycare, making it easier for you to show your pet that the vet is a friend, not a foe.
Best Vet for Cats & Dogs in West Austin: Firehouse Animal Health Center
3801 N. Capital of Texas Hwy., Suite F-100
Firehouse Animal Health Center works with local animal support organizations to provide funds and free medical service. So, when you support Firehouse, you’re supporting the greater Austin pet community.
In appointments, Firehouse vets use Fear-Free tactics and focus on client education. They offer blood chemistry testing, heartworm testing, immunizations and preventive medicine, physical examinations, intestinal parasite screenings, and dental care, as well as more integrative services that include nutrition, genetic, and behavioral consultations.
Best Vet for Birds and Small Animals: Westgate Pet & Bird Hospital
4534 West Gate Blvd., #100
This pet hospital offers specialized care for exotic animals. They have extensive experience working with parrots (large and small), fowl, songbirds, rabbits and rodents, ferrets, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, reptiles, and amphibians.
Several of the practices staff veterinarians got their exotic-animal experience working at zoos. In addition to their veterinary doctorates, many of the clinic’s veterinarians have backgrounds that include wildlife biology, biomedical science, and herpetology.
Best Vet for Emergencies: Austin Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center (AVES)
7300 Ranch Rd. 2222, Bldg. 5, Suite 100
The number one requirement for an emergency vet is that they’re available 24/7. If you have a pet emergency during normal business hours, your family vet can usually accommodate you as long as they are a full-service practice. But, if you have a pet emergency in the middle of the night, you need to know where to go.
AVES offers 24/7 service with specialities in surgery and orthopedics, neurology and neurosurgery, internal medicine, critical care, oncology, dentistry, cardiology, and radiology. After an emergency, the practice offers rehabilitation and fitness programs to ensure a full recovery.
Find the Best Care for Your Best Friend
Being a pet parent comes with its share of ups and downs. There was that pair of sneakers your dog chewed up, the couch your cat decided was a scratching post, and the carpet that hasn’t been the same since potty training. But there was also that time you got the flu and your pet laid by your side everyday for a week straight.
When it’s your turn to return the favor, you need a vet you can rely on. The practices listed here are some of the best, but what’s truly important is finding a vet who makes you and your pet feel comfortable, a vet who shares your values, and a vet who’s opinion you trust.
So, make an appointment and start your search for the best vet in Austin. When you know your pet is in good hands, you can relax and get back to the fun parts of pet parenting — like exploring the best hiking trails in town.