My family has always had pets, and as long as we have had pets, we have always brought our animals to a locally owned animal hospital. With our last dog, Loki, an Akita mix, we had always brought him to an animal hospital where my sister in law worked as a vet technician.
Having a family member that works in veterinarian medicine has its perks: Having someone you can text at any time to ask advice is a nice benefit, and it’s always great to save a few dollars on appointments and medications.
Unfortunately as our Loki’s life was coming to an end, our vet dropped the ball, and refused to come to our home to send Loki over the rainbow bridge due to the pandemic. Despite being less than 5 minutes up the road, and being a long time client, and family friend, “I’ll do it in the parking lot of our office” was the best they could offer.
It left a sour taste in our mouth on one of the most difficult days of my life.
When we brought home our little baby American Akita, Haga, home, we wanted to find new veterinary care, and our good friends who are the proud owners of two beautiful, pure bred Huskies, recommended Banfield Pet Hospital.
At first we were unsure if Banfield was right for us. On the surface, it seemed a bit too “corporate”. Could a large company like that really attract quality vet-techs and veterinarians? Or do they just try to find the cheapest staff possible?
Nevertheless our friends had been taking their dogs there for years, so we thought it would at least be worth looking in to.
When we went to Banfield for the first time, we were pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the staff, the cleanliness of the facility, and the overall “vibe” we got from being there. They went over their different care packages, where in you can pay a monthly fee, so you don’t have to pay for individual vet appointments. Depending on which package you choose, certain services like neutering and specific vaccinations are included. When you have a puppy, this is a no brainer since you’ll likely be taking frequent trips to the vet for check-ups, vaccines, and oopsies after your puppy gets into trouble.
We decided to sign up for one of their plans and give them a shot. At this point we’ve now completed our first year of care with Banfield Pet Hospitals, and thought that this might be a good opportunity to go over the pros and cons, and whether or not you should take your pet there.
If you don’t want to read the whole article, just know that there are many more pros than cons. So let’s get into it!
Thousands of Locations
Like many of you, we love taking our Akita with us every where we go, including on vacation. But one of the biggest concerns when travelling with a pet is finding good care if an issue arises while you’re away from home. Banfield has over 1,000 locations in North America, so not only is there a strong likelihood of there being a Banfield Pet Hospital nearby, but all of your dog’s information will be in their system no matter which location you go to, so you don’t have to worry about getting a new vet up to speed. It’s also worth mentioning that if you do purchase one of their care plans, they are valid at all Banfield Hospitals, so you don’t have to worry about paying for an appointment while you’re on the road visiting a different location. This also applies if you decide to move.
Most animal hospitals have typical Monday-Friday, 9-5 type of hours. Not only is Banfield open until 6pm most evenings, but they are also open 7 days a week. This is extremely important for us because too many times we’ve had to take our previous dogs to an emergency animal hospital on a weekend, because we wanted to err on the side of caution.
Emergency animal care is extremely expensive, even if the vet sends your pup home with no actual treatment, appointments can cost hundreds of dollars. Having the ability to bring your Akita in 7 days a week is HUGE for us.
Banfields are inside of Pet Smart
Obviously placing Banfield pet hospitals inside of Pet Smart stores was a strategic way for both businesses to benefit off of one another, but it is extremely convenient. Many times when going to a local vet, they would recommend a supplement, toy, or particular food that they didn’t have at the animal hospital. With Banfield being inside of Pet Smart, it saves you a trip to the pet store because you already have everything you need right there in house, and I’m really big on anything that saves me time.
As previously mentioned, Banfield has several different care plans available where you can pay monthly and then not have to pay for individual visits. Please note: Many times the treatment your vet administered will still need to be paid for, but typically the visit is free.
I can tell you first hand that with a puppy or with a senior dog, paying for individual vet visits can get expensive, as sometimes you may go every month, or even multiple times a month.
With Banfield’s care plans including certain services like neutering and vaccines, it can be a no brainer for those who have puppies.
Excellent Customer Service + Online Access
Whenever we bring Haga to Banfield, everyone knows him by name, despite the fact that they see thousands of animals weekly. They are also really good at following up after a visit, sending appointment reminders, getting back to us quickly when we call with a question, etc…
They also have Mybanfield.com which is an online portal with access to all of your dog’s health information, including medications, vaccinations, last appointment, next appointment, and more. This is incredibly helpful if you forget when your dog’s last heart worm was or when they need to have their rabies vaccine updated.
Because Banfield is a chain, they do a higher volume of care and service. This means that they can offer more competitive pricing on drugs, medicine, vaccines and even surgeries and other services. When it came time to do Haga’s 3-way surgery, we did shop around a bit just to get an idea on cost, and Banfield gave us the most reasonable quote, and actually came in cheaper than the original estimate
There really aren’t too many cons to Banfield Pet Hospital, in OUR experience, however there are some things that you should take note of:
Your Experience May Vary
With thousands of locations, there will be some variance from one location to the next in terms of quality of care. Some veterinarians are simply better than others. However the same could be said about taking your dog to one local vet versus another.
Scheduling Haga’s Surgery Took a While
When we finally decided to neuter our American Akita, Haga, it took about 6 weeks to get him in to their schedule. In Banfield’s defense, this was partially because we also opted to do a gastropexy and he needed a rectal polyp removed at the same time. Given the complexity of the surgery, there was only one Vet on staff able to do the procedure, and that is why it took so long to get us into the schedule.
With that said, for regular appointments they’ve always been able to fit us in very quickly, sometimes same-day.
You’re Going to Spend a lot of Money on Toys and Treats
As previously mentioned, Banfield Pet Hospitals are found inside of Pet Smart stores. Many times while you are waiting for your pup, you wander the store…and buy them toys, chews, or treats. We almost never leave empty handed. This is mostly our own fault, because we love to spoil our Akita, Haga, but this is something to keep in mind!
Hopefully this answered some of your questions about Banfield Pet Hospitals. If you have one local to you I would highly recommend checking them out for your Akita’s care, or any dog. If you’re already happy with your veterinarian, that’s great, but for us, this past year our experience with Banfield has been nothing but positive.
The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, the prices are fair, and veterinarians are passionate and personable. We really have no complaints!