Opinion Surveys

We surveyed area Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers for their feedback on veterinarians they have used. We also surveyed a random sampling of other area consumers. On our surveys, we ask consumers to rate their experiences with practices they had most recently used on several aspects of service. Our ratings tables show the percent of each practice’s surveyed customers who provided a rating of “superior” (as opposed to “inferior” or “adequate”) for questions on our survey.

We have included on our ratings tables all of the practices for which we received at least 10 ratings on our customer surveys. If a practice is not listed on our ratings tables, it simply means we did not receive at least 10 ratings for it.

Since many practices were rated by rather small numbers of raters, small differences between two practices in the percentage of raters who gave a particular rating (say, "superior") should be ignored. The table below gives a rough guide to minimum differences you should look for in deciding on one practice over another.

When using these survey data, remember that the questions are to some degree subjective and that the differences among practices might be explained by differences in the personalities, backgrounds, critical standards, and other characteristics of the raters or by biases these raters might have.

Price Comparison Scores

To compute our price comparison scores, we calculated an average price for each veterinary service for all the practices that quoted on that service. Next we compared each practice’s price to the average. One practice might come in at 120 percent of the multi-practice average for a particular job, and another might come in at 90 percent. We took each practice’s percentage score on each service, standardized it, and assigned a weight to each service, based on our judgment. We then averaged the standardized, weighted percentage scores to find how the practice compared to other practices overall. Finally, we multiplied this overall percentage score by a flat dollar amount, say, $100.

The price comparison score, then, is intended to indicate the relative prices we found for the practices, adjusted to the base of this flat dollar amount. These scores are imperfect for various reasons: for instance, the services checked may not be representative; the weighting of various services in the scores may not accurately reflect typical expenditure patterns; and the number of services we checked is small.

Animals Cared For

Information reported on our ratings tables regarding types of animals practices care for came directly from the practices' representatives. Our researchers called each practice to complete a survey over the phone and then followed up with a mailed verification form.

Timeliness of the Data

All of the data must be interpreted in view of timeliness. Our customer survey data are from surveys conducted from January 2010 to November 2021. Survey respondents were asked to report on experiences in the preceding year. The data from our survey of practices were collected from September to November 2021. Our price data were collected from May to September 2021.

For the most part, our tables include practices for which we collected 10 or more ratings on our customer survey during the customer survey period mentioned above, but we do not report data for periods prior to practices' changes of name and ownership. As a result, some large practices are not listed at all. If only name or ownership changed, we do report the data. Changes subsequent to the dates listed above may not be taken into account.

Top Ratings

We give checkmarks to companies that score highest on a scoring system that we devise for each service field. Our scoring systems weight the various data in our tables and text based on our subjective judgment of their importance. Since the scores are based entirely on information presented, you can apply your own subjective judgments, and decide whether you prefer companies we have not given checkmarks. Where we do not have important data on a company, we cannot give our checkmark.
 

A rough guide for deciding whether the difference between two percentages is important If one firm had this number of ratings: And a second had this number of ratings: Do not give much importance to the difference between percentages unless the difference is at least this many percentage points:
Assuming the average of the two firms' percentages is 50 percent 10
30
60
120
10
30
60
120
45
26
18
13
Assuming the average of the two firms' percentages is 80 percent 10
30
60
120
10
30
60
120
36
21
15
10