When you need a caretaker for your pet, look towards our curated list of the best vet hospitals, clinics, and specialty locations in the Chicago Metro area. Whether you live in River North, Gold Coast, Old Town, Wicker Park, the West Loop or in the suburbs, you will be able to find a vet near you. Click on the list to find out which practices are considered the best in the Windy City based on our GreatVet scoring system.
Whether you just adopted your first puppy or kitten, moved to Chicagoland from out of town, or are simply looking for a new veterinarian due to personal preferences, every pet owner needs a great vet. Just as you take the time to carefully select your own healthcare providers, a similar process should be applied to finding the perfect caretaker for your pet.
One thing to remember, though, is that all pets have different needs, and not all veterinarians are alike. With over 650 clinics in the area, all with unique care philosophies, varying hours of operation, specialized services, and emergency offerings, there are countless factors to be considered when selecting the perfect vet for you. With so many variables, finding the ideal veterinary clinic for your pet can be tricky. That’s why we’ve put together a curated list just for Chicagoans, to help you find the perfect veterinarian match. Check out our list of the Top 20 Vets in Chicago.
In this blog post, we’ve come up with the Top 6 questions you should consider when choosing your pet’s healthcare provider.1. Where is the veterinarian located?
Location, Location, Location! Convenience is key. If you live in a busy city, being able to walk to the vet is ideal, but just knowing that you can hop in your car and easily park at the vet’s office can give you peace of mind in an emergency. Use GreatVet to immediately start your veterinary search by typing in your area code to find practices in your area. You can then adjust the search radius to see more options if necessary. Here are a few offices with great locations and parking options central to Chicago neighborhoods:
Metropolitan Veterinary Center: Located on S. Michigan Avenue, this vet is ideally placed in the South Loop. Its many complimentary parking spots make it convenient for pet owners coming from a distance.
GoodVets StreeterVille: The GoodVets group’s first downtown Chicago hospital located at Columbus Dr and Grand Ave in Streeterville offers clients complimentary, two-hour validated parking at the parking garage (Cityfront Garage) adjacent to its facilities. Although easily walkable for Streeterville, Lakeshore East and River North residents, for those pet owners visiting for an appointment from farther neighborhoods, the free parking is a lifesaver. Don’t forget to bring your parking ticket with you for validation.
Although location is an obvious and important factor to consider, don’t stop your search here. Just because a clinic is close to your home doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best suited clinic for your pet’s needs.2. What are the animal hospital’s hours of operations and what if there is an emergency?
Once you have found a nearby vet, next consider if the hours work with your schedule and what happens if you have an emergency. Fortunately, some clinics strive to support emergency care, and many are affiliated with a larger, 24-hour hospital nearby that they refer emergency and advanced cases to.
GoodVets COO, David Saginur, explains what to consider when preparing for potential medical emergencies: "When possible, we recommend utilizing the emergency care provided by your general practitioner('GP') veterinarian, but only if they offer that service during regular open hours. Similar to human medicine, your GP vet will be more economical than an emergency veterinary center, plus your pet will be seen by the doctors that know them best, with full and immediate access to medical records and histories. Finally, you generally can avoid the frustrations of long wait times and a slow triage process at the emergency center by going to your usual veterinarian. Make sure to call ahead of time prior to bringing in an emergency to confirm your case is able to be seen at your regular animal hospital, and give your GP vet some warning so the medical team can be prepared for your arrival."
For all after-hour emergencies, BluePearl Pet Hospitals are open 24/7 for emergencies, while most Chicago-area clinics close between 6pm and 8pm. BluePearl specializes in last-minute, emergency cases, and offers a detailed set of instructions for stressed-out owners rushing to find care for their suffering pet.
Use the GreatVet platform to help you screen for the office hours of
veterinary clinics in your area that work with your schedule and, in case
of emergency, quickly filter to clinics that see patients 24/7 or which
emergency center your regular veterinarian refers to.
Emergencies happen, so be proactive and learn about emergency procedures now, before you actually have one.
In today’s day and age, online reviews can be an informative way to research the quality of experiences. At the same time, online reviews can also be polarizing, making it difficult to understand a veterinarian’s capabilities. Before judging a vet clinic based off of the first set of 5 star ratings you see, we recommend looking at a couple variables.
Make sure the practice offers the right scope of services and the expertise to properly care for your best friend. Make a list of your pet’s needs—think about age, animal-type, and any current concerns. For example, if you own a dog, is it a puppy in need of general care? Is it older, in need of geriatric care or pain relief?
Depending on your pet needs, it may make sense to go to a generalist practice or a specialty practice.
Dr. Kelly Ballantyne, a Board-Certified Behavioral Specialist in Chicago and founder of Insight Animal Behavioral Services helps explain the differences.
"General practitioners are excellent at providing wellness and preventive care services, treating common conditions, and many perform routine surgeries and dentistry services. Veterinary specialists, with their additional training and ongoing education in a specific area, are helpful when a pet's condition is unusual, complex, or severe."
VCA is a general practice in Chicago with 6 downtown locations. Payal Music, Hospital Manager at VCA Lakeshore explains the benefits to choosing VCA as your general practice, "The great thing about VCA is we are a network and if one location in unable to perform a specific procedure, we can send them to a specialist at another location."
If you are dealing with severe behavioral issues such as aggression or separation anxiety, consider seeing a behavioral board-certified specialist such as Dr. Ballantyne.
Dr. Ballantyne explains the benefits to seeing a behavioral specialist. “Specialists have treated hundreds of complicated behavioral cases during the residency training program, which may take from three to eight years. By the time a veterinarian is board-certified in behavior, they have dedicated anywhere from eight to 12 years to studying the medical and behavioral issues that can affect many species of animals, including dogs, cats, birds, and horses, to name a few. They are required to stay current on the most recent scientific findings by conducting and evaluating research as well as by attending and presenting at professional continuing education meetings. Veterinary behaviorists are trained to address behavioral problems as well as any underlying medical conditions that may cause or contribute to them.”
Whatever the case may be, knowing your pet needs will help you find a vet that will best suit you. Using GreatVet, you can find out what services and equipment are offered on-site, and even filter to find specialists in areas like cardiology or oncology.
The GreatVet Filters can also help you easily screen for the services that match your pet needs.5. Are they GreatVet Verified?
With all these factors to consider, it is no wonder why pet owners find that this process can be overwhelming, scary, and time consuming. That’s where GreatVet’s Verified Profiles come in. Every GreatVet Verified Profile is vetted and ensures pet owners have the best data to make an educated decision on choosing a new veterinarian, setting you up for success.
GreatVet Verified Profiles are considered a stamp of approval that we have vetted a veterinarian practice and that practice has quality and accurate data and is considered a top veterinarian in the city. GreatVet Verified Profiles are exclusively built to highlight the most important information you as a researcher are looking for, and makes that data practical, functional and most importantly, personalized to your every need. The GreatVet Score also makes it easy to compare the differences for each veterinary option in your city. Using the GreatVet Score along with other filters described above on hours, services and location, finding the best vet clinic match has never been easier. We cut out the noise and help you make a decision based off the highest quality data. We save you time, stress and money.6. Do you feel comfortable with the veterinarian?
Take advantage of the GreatVet’s profiles to also understand your potential veterinarian’s clinical care philosophy, making it easy to find someone you can build a meaningful and trusting relationship with.
Then, use your initial appointment to get to know the pet care professionals firsthand. Ask questions to learn about the practice’s communication channels and style to make sure the practice’s best practices align with your expectations. If you’ve had even one bad interaction at the vet or doctor’s office, you know exactly how important it is that you feel comfortable communicating with the receptionists, technicians, and veterinarians at whatever practice you choose so use this first appointment to gauge your comfort level.
Payal Music of VCA Lakeshore explains how important communication is between the pet owner and the hospital. “Communication with our clients is very important to us. We have a text messaging system called VCA text messenger which allows our clients to more easily communicate with us. All clients who download VCA Messenger have immediate access to our veterinarians and staff and can get the feedback they need within minutes.”
You and your little pal are developing a long-term relationship with the office, and you want to feel trust, warmth, and friendliness with every interaction whether inside or outside of the office.To Conclude
Finding a veterinary practice that is in your neighborhood and also has the skill set, personality, and the expertise and services to care for your best friend over their lifetime is tricky. Luckily, GreatVet is here to help you find the quality care provider your companion deserves.