What to expect when you visit the vet

Vet - dog

When you call or visit your veterinarian to make an appointment, you can expect to be asked for information about your animal and details of its medical history, especially if this is your first contact with that particular vet.

The veterinarian will examine your animal and provide advice on how to further investigate, manage or treat any current issues your pet may have.  Your vet will also be able to answer questions you have and provide you with helpful advice about how best to take care of your animal - feeding, socialising, exercise and training. You can expect to receive a fairly accurate estimate of costs for routine procedures such as vaccinations and desexing. If the situation is more complex, it may be harder to estimate what the ultimate cost will be. Your vet will give you an idea, though, and keep you informed as the diagnosis and treatment proceed.

It's important that pets have regular health checks at the vet. Dogs and cats age much more quickly than humans, and it's important to catch problems early if you want to ensure a long and happy life for your companion animal.

Unlike your local doctor, veterinary hospitals have a wide range of equipment on-site, and usually offer all the necessary diagnostic tests and treatments in one place. If there's a serious problem, your vet might recommend a visit to a veterinary specialist or emergency centre who has particular expertise and more advanced diagnostic abilities such as CT and MRI machines.

If there's an emergency, most veterinarians have arrangements to take care of your animal after hours. As with any after-hours service, this may cost more than you would pay during normal hospital opening hours, just as it does to call a locksmith or plumber in an after-hours emergency.

Many pet owners take out health insurance for their pets so that if their animal requires emergency care and treatment or becomes critically unwell, they have peace of mind that the insurance will help cover the costs of the necessary treatment. More information about pet insurance can be found here.

More information about veterinary fees can be found here.

Finding the right vet for you

It's very important that you find a vet who you can establish a good ongoing relationship with to ensure you get the best treatment for your pet. Why not ask your prospective new vet whether they're a member of the Australian Veterinary Association?

There are some great benefits to using a vet that is a member of the AVA. This is because AVA members commit to a Professional Code of Conduct which means high ethical standards for people and their pets. Members also take advantage of continuing education programs to keep up on the latest techniques and research, which is important for your pet’s health and treatment.

The AVA offers a community for vets to network and to share ideas, to find out who is offering breakthrough treatments or alternative options, and vets can use this information to better treat pets. Check out our Find-a-vet service for an AVA member near you.


If you have a complaint about the service you've received from your veterinarian, it is best to you raise your concern directly with the vet first. If you're not comfortable talking directly to the veterinarian, you can ask to see the practice manager or principal veterinarian for the practice

Veterinarians are accountable to a veterinary registration board in the same way that doctors are accountable to a medical board. If you're not satisfied with the response, you can contact the veterinary registration board in your state or territory. Veterinary registration boards have the power to investigate professional complaints against veterinarians and impose disciplinary action if required. Any member of the public can contact his or her veterinary board to discuss the service they've received from a veterinarian.

List of state and territory veterinary boards and councils