Finding a Veterinarian
If you've had dogs in the past and have worked with a veterinarian in your area, you're lucky. You don't have to search for veterinary care. If you are a first-timedog owner or if you're new to your area, you'll need to find someone to work with — preferably before your shepherd comes home.
Breeders' contracts often require you to get a veterinary examination within forty-eight to seventy-two hours of your purchase of the dog. If you haven't selected your veterinarian prior to purchasing a puppy, you might not be able to schedule an examination within this time period.
Usually, if you've adopted your shepherd from a local rescue, you will be given a list of preferred veterinarians. These are trusted veterinarians with whom individuals from the rescue have had experience. If you've purchased a puppy from a local breeder, she most likely has some veterinarians to recommend as well.
You can also check with the local animal shelters and humane societies. Certain veterinarians in the community donate or discount their services to shelters so that these shelters will have more money to care for and place animals. These veterinarians are often highly skilled, in addition to having their hearts in the right place.
When searching for a veterinarian, take into consideration where the veterinarian is located; in an emergency, you'll appreciate some-one who's right around the corner. You should also find out how much she charges for routine exams, how she handles after-hours emergencies, and in what areas her interest and expertise lie. If she primarily treats exotic pets, you might feel more comfortable with someone who specializes in dogs. Even better is a veterinarian who specializes in dogs and genuinely likes German shepherds.
If costs are a concern to you, you might want to investigate the private practitioner's clinic. This professional often does not have the overhead (hospital, staff, expensive radiograph and MRI equipment, and multiple surgical suites) of larger animal hospitals, which means she'll likely have lower rates. Depending on the needs you anticipate for your dog, this option may be just fine.
Unfortunately, no one can anticipate an emergency. It's usually not a matter of if you and your shepherd will have a veterinary crisis, but when. An animal hospital may be able to provide round-the-clock care, whereas a clinic may have to refer you to an emergency facility. Both services may be excellent; it could be a matter of what you are comfortable with, given that the emergency clinic will not have your dog's records on hand; potential expenses, as independent emergency veterinary hospitals tend to charge high rates; and location. If an emergency clinic is halfway across town, it may not be a practical alternative.