The Complete Guide to Choosing a Vet for Pet Owners

dog examination by veterinary doctor with stethoscope in clinic

An estimated 86 million households around the nation are home to at least one pet. Thanks to a pandemic-fueled surge of adoptions, many people are experiencing pet ownership for the first time. Owning a pet isn’t just about providing them with good food, plenty of toys, and lots of love. Just like humans, your furry companions require regular medical care. That means that choosing a vet should be one of your top priorities when you bring home a new pet.

That said, you may find a lot of options for vets in your area and not know which one to pick. Not all vets offer the same services, quality of care, or competitive prices. Today, we’re going to talk about how to choose a vet that will fit your family’s needs and why Dr. Daniel Slaton and his Staff at Slaton Veterinary Hospital should be your preferred Veterinarian. Read on to find out about all of the factors to take into consideration.

What Animals Do They Treat?

Keep in mind that most veterinary hospitals are designed to treat your average pet. This usually includes:

  • dogs
  • cats
  • some rodents (like hamsters and guinea pigs)

If your animals do not land on this list, you may have to start looking for a specialty vet. For example, if you need care for livestock like pigs, horses, or cows, you are going to want to look for a large animal vet. Oftentimes, these vets will come out to your home, farm, or ranch to treat sick or injured animals because it can be difficult to transport livestock and provide indoor facilities for treatment.

If you have what is considered an exotic pet, you may want to call a vet’s office before bringing them in. As a category, exotic pets are often defined as animals that are undomesticated. This can include:

  • amphibians
  • birds
  • reptiles including lizards and snakes
  • some rodents (like weasels and chinchillas)
  • animals that are illegal to own as pets

Having an exotic pet doesn’t inherently mean that your local vet won’t treat them. However, it will depend on the vet’s experience and available tools and medications. Dr. Slaton and his Staff have treated a wide variety of pets, including some of the exotic pets listed above.

Are They Taking New Patients?

Unfortunately, many cities are looking at a shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Some pet owners find it difficult to get in for an appointment within a reasonable amount of time. At Slaton Veterinary Hospital, we welcome New clients as well as Walk-Ins. If your current Vet is busy, Slaton Veterinary Hospital will gladly welcome you.

We urge you to visit our Hospital, meet Dr. Slaton and his staff instead of waiting days or weeks to get an appointment at other animal hospitals.

What Services Do They Provide?

Ideally, you’ll want to find a vet that will be able to offer all or most of the services your pet will need in their lifetime. This includes everything from spaying, neutering, orthopedic and soft tissue surgery, vaccines, and end-of-life care. Slaton Veterinary Hospital offers all of the above and much more to meet all of your family pets’ needs.

Veterinary Hospital or Veterinary Clinic?

It’s useful to understand the difference between a veterinary clinic and a veterinary hospital. While some organizations use these words interchangeably, they can represent an important distinction. Smaller facilities that can provide preventative medicine, limited diagnostics, and limited surgeries. For example, they may perform spay and neuter procedures without offering more complicated surgeries such as orthopedic or soft tissue surgeries. A veterinary hospital should offer a wide range of services. Take a look at the services offered at Slaton Veterinary Hospital. You’ll see that we provide comprehensive care for all pet ailments, from parasite treatment to lab work to dentistry and more.

Are You Facing a Veterinary Emergency? 

Not all medical concerns that you have about your pet can wait until your next scheduled appointment. Conditions like lacerations, toxin ingestion, and sudden infections require immediate attention. Always find out if your vet offers emergency care and keep the emergency phone number on hand. If they don’t offer emergency care, ask if they have any recommendations for local emergency facilities that you can utilize. While we hope that you never need it, you’ll be glad to know Slaton Veterinary Hospital offers Emergency Care during our operating hours. Dr. Daniel Slaton has extensive experience in providing Emergency Care and has State-of-the-Art equipment to quickly diagnose and treat most emergencies.

What Veterinary Care Experience Do They Have?

Experience is key when it comes to choosing a vet. You should always verify that your pet’s vet is licensed, certified and has completed the necessary education to provide treatment. There are always new people entering the veterinary workforce, which is an important part of combatting things like staff shortages. However, it’s ideal for new vets and vet techs to spend at least a few years working with someone more seasoned in order to get the experience they need to provide comprehensive care to your pet in a safe and supervised manner. Over the years, Dr. Slaton gained experience in orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries as well as a wide range of illness and disease. He has two decades of hands-on experience since graduating from Ross Veterinary School of Medicine. His love for animals has fueled his pursuit to stay on top of the latest treatment options and procedures, ensuring that your pet will always get the best care.

Are They Corporate or Privately Owned?

Large corporations have been acquiring veterinary hospitals over the past 10-15 years, making them giants in the industry. When you choose a veterinary hospital that is corporate owned, you may not always get the same veterinary doctor or personal care that you get at a privately owned veterinary hospital. Also, their pricing may be higher than other veterinary hospitals in the area since individual corporate hospitals often have no say in what they charge clients. By choosing a privately held veterinary hospital, you are assured personal connection and service from the same Veterinary doctor of your choosing each time you book an appointment. At Slaton Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Daniel Slaton will be your personal veterinary doctor each and every time you visit. Slaton Veterinary Hospital is family owned and operated. The Slaton Family has lived in Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Valley for over 20 years.

Where Are They Located?

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to overlook. You’ll want to take your pet to the vet at least once a year for a check-up and even more so if they are seniors. This is in addition to any other care they may need to treat illness, injury or emergency situations that may arise between annual appointments. To make these regular and as-needed visits feasible, choose a vet that is available at least 6 days a week, accepts emergency patients, and is willing to accept Walk-Ins. Slaton Veterinary Hospital is conveniently located at 3900 East Thousand Oaks Blvd just off of the 101 freeway and close to the 23 freeway. Due to Dr. Slaton’s reputation as a compassionate and skilled doctor, clients come from as far North as Santa Barbara and as far South as Los Angeles. SVH offers ample parking, is open Monday through Saturday, accepts emergencies and always welcomes Walk-Ins, making it easy for you to bring your furry friend in as needed.

What Fees Do They Charge?

Comparing veterinary care costs is a must for many families. It’s no secret that owning a pet can cost a lot of money, especially when it comes to unexpected vet bills. Asking about fees and pricing can make it easier for you to make an informed decision and prepare accordingly. You’ll want to know about any regular fees, such as the cost of a vet visit, as well as the cost of any procedures your pet may need. While it’s important to stay within your budget, keep in mind that Veterinary Care costs, like Human Care costs, have increased significantly over the past 10 years due to increases in the cost of supplies, hospital operations and of course staff salaries. If you request several quotes and receive one that is far lower than the average in your area, it may be a sign that the services offered are below acceptable standards. Dr. Slaton makes every effort to keep Veterinary Care Costs at a reasonable level. Slaton Veterinary Hospital offers discounts for Rescues, Seniors, Active Military personnel and more.

Do They Take Pet Insurance?

Many American pet owners don’t have the savings to cover an emergency vet bill. This is why pet insurance is becoming a more popular option around the nation. Pet insurance works a lot like our own health insurance; however, the Pet Owner is required to pay their veterinary bills up front and get reimbursed by the insurance company. You pay a monthly premium and may have to meet a deductible before coverage for your pet’s approved medical costs will kick in. If pet insurance fits your budget but an illness, medical condition, or medical emergency wouldn’t, you may want to insure your pet. If you have an insured pet, Slaton Veterinary Hospital Staff can help guide your paperwork to your insurance company. If you are interested in obtaining pet insurance, our staff can help.

Do They Have Testimonials?

When you’re a first-time pet owner or you’ve just moved to a new city, recommendations and reviews are extremely useful. If you can’t get any personal recommendations, don’t sweat it. A great vet is going to have plenty of testimonials that you can peruse to find out what other pet owners think. Reading online reviews is a great way to get insight into things like quality of care and overall satisfaction. Do previous clients feel that their vet provided proper and thorough treatment? Were they (and their pets) treated with kindness and respect? Great testimonials show that many people trust a vet and their staff members and that you can expect to feel the same. See Slaton Veterinary Hospital Testimomnials Here.

Can You Schedule an Initial Exam?

Before you settle on your forever vet, you can ask to schedule an initial exam. This will allow you to come in and talk to the vet and other staff members and check out the facilities. At Slaton Veterinary Hospital we offer FREE Initial Exams for your pet (1 FREE initial exam per family).

Bedside Manner

How does the staff interact with you and your pet when you’re coming in for an appointment? Do they treat you with kindness and show concern for your pet? Do they know how to avoid making your pet more distraught, excitable, or anxious?

Bedside manners can go a long way toward a successful, low-stress vet visit. You and your pet deserve to feel comfortable and safe when you’re coming in for your pet’s care.


When you go to a doctor’s office, you expect it to be clean and orderly. The same should go for your vet’s office. Naturally, a vet’s office can get chaotic and a little messy. However, it’s always a good sign when the waiting area is tidy, and the Exam Rooms are clean. Clean facilities show that a vet and their staff are professional and follow the best protocols to keep everyone safe, healthy, and happy.

On-Site Services

Some vets work in an office or clinic that is part of a larger system. This could mean that your pet receives preventative care in their office but that you’ll need to take your pet elsewhere for things like surgery or emergency treatment.

It’s useful to know which services are offered on-site. At Slaton Veterinary Hospital, we offer all of our services from the same location for your convenience. 

Choosing a Vet Is an Important Part of Pet Care – Book an Appointment With Us Now

If you’re a new pet owner or you and your pet are living in a new city, one of the first steps to take is choosing a vet. Finding the right vet can make a huge difference in your pet’s health and quality of life. With this guide, you can start narrowing down your options to find the best vet available to you. Are you interested in seeing Dr. Slaton and the team here at Slaton Veterinary Hospital? We provide the best care in the area and always go above and beyond in the care and concern for our patients. Make an appointment online and we’ll get in touch soon. If it’s urgent or an emergency, please call us at (805) 269-6696 rather than using our online scheduler.