Why It's Hard to Find a Vet Near Me: Understanding the Challenges

Why It's Hard to Find a Vet Near Me: Understanding the Challenges
Photo by 傅甬 华

I remember talking to a pet owner who managed to get an appointment at the clinic where I was working. They were incredibly grateful because the emergency vet wait time was going to be 5-6 hours.


This story is sadly not uncommon and highlights the widespread issue pet owners face when trying to find veterinary care. The difficulties in finding a vet near you stem from long wait times, staffing shortages, and the differences in the types of veterinary clinics available.

Long Wait Times Can Be Common

Long wait times at veterinary clinics have become a common complaint among pet owners. The reasons behind this issue are tricky. One main factor is the vast number of pets needing care.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, pet adoptions surged, leading to an increased demand for veterinary services. Unfortunately, the number of practicing veterinarians has not kept pace with this demand​.

Team Issues in Veterinary Clinics

Staffing shortages are another significant issue impacting veterinary clinics. Many clinics struggle to maintain a full team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and support staff. This shortage can lead to overworked staff and reduced appointment availability.

Some clinics even close down altogether!

Several factors contribute to these staffing challenges. Firstly, working in veterinary medicine is demanding and can lead to burnout. Veterinarians often work long hours and deal with emotionally taxing situations, which can take a toll on their well-being. Additionally, the educational pathway to becoming a veterinarian is long and expensive, potentially discouraging people from entering the field​.

Different Types of Veterinary Clinics

Understanding the different types of veterinary clinics can also help explain why finding the right vet can be challenging. Here's a brief overview:

  1. General Practice Clinics: These clinics provide routine care such as vaccinations, check-ups, and basic medical treatment. Some of these will help with certain types of emergencies, but many are not well equipped for intensive care.
  2. Emergency Clinics: Emergency clinics handle urgent and critical care situations. These clinics operate outside of regular hours and are equipped to handle serious conditions. However, they are not meant for routine care, and their services can be more expensive​, sometimes upwards of $10,000!
  3. Shelter Clinics: These clinics are associated with animal shelters and provide medical care for shelter animals. They may also offer low-cost services like low-cost vaccines and spay/neuter surgeries, but it can be tricky to find out about these since these are less common than your typical practices.

Practical Tips for Pet Owners

Given these challenges, here are some practical tips to help you figure out which vet clinic to go to:

  1. Plan Ahead: Schedule routine check-ups well in advance to avoid long waits. Preventing a sickness is way better than trying to cure one!
  2. Build a Relationship: Establish a good relationship with a local vet to ensure your pet gets timely care.
  3. Consider Pet Insurance: This can help cover the costs of emergency visits if you can't get a timely appointment at a general practice clinic. Be warned, care plans (subscriptions) with local vet clinics may not cover emergency services, so be sure to read the details.
  4. Explore All Options: Look into all available veterinary services, including mobile vets and teleadvice, which can provide convenient care options.


Finding a vet near you can be challenging due to long wait times, vet team shortages, and challenge of finding the right veterinary clinic. By understanding these factors and planning accordingly, you can help ensure your pet receives the best possible care. Remember, regular vet visits and preventative care are crucial for your pet's health. Don't hesitate to explore all your options and establish a relationship with a reliable veterinary provider.