As we all know, trust in the relationship between pet parent and veterinarian is extremely important. The idea that some veterinarians may have pushed unnecessary services onto pets to make additional money is frightening! But as Dr. Katy points out, the vast majority of the vet community always puts pets and their health first.
One of the best ways to avoid a negligent vet visit is to make sure that you've properly prepared going into the visit. To help you prepare to make the most of your next visit to the vet, Dr. Katy shares with us some important tips on how to make sure that your pup or kitty is getting the proper care that he or she needs.
From Dr. Katy:
When ABC's 20/20 segment on veterinarians came out last November, it created quite the stir in the pet community. While many of my colleagues were talking about it, I really haven't heard any concern or questions from any of my pet parents. Hopefully that's a sign of faith in me!
But in all seriousness, this is a very important topic to address. I have the utmost faith in the veterinary community, and the response to the segment on ABC's 20/20 has shown just how much veterinarians truly do care about the pets that they serve each and every day. Regardless of your personal feelings about the segment, it served as a very important reminder about just how much trust plays a role in the veterinarian / pet owner relationship.
With all of the veterinarians that I've gotten to know over the years, I genuinely believe they've always had one thing in mind: what's best for your pet. But, the veterinarian cannot do it all by him or herself. That's why it's important that you approach each vet visit with the proper preparation and mindset, to help your vet make informed decisions in the best interests of you and your pet.
So I've put together some "Do's and Don’t's" that I've learned over the years since working as a vet. Keep these in mind during your next visit to help get the most out of your time there, and to ensure you and your pet leave on the healthiest note possible:
- DO: Bring In A List of Your Questions: When heading to the grocery store, we often go with a grocery list in hand because it's easy to forget everything we need. Shouldn't the same be for your vet visit? I'd recommend keeping a journal, whether on your phone, computer or a good old-fashioned paper one, where you jot down things that your pet does that might be a concern. Maybe a few times a month he/she drinks a bowl of water and throws it up. Or maybe twice a week she walks away from her breakfast without eating. It's always better to bring up small problems before they become big problems, and writing them down can help you remember to address them at the vet's office before life's other distractions get in the way.
- DON'T: Bring In Tons of Your Own Research! While we love to see the enthusiasm, it can sometimes be misinterpreted by veterinarians as implying that you don't trust their knowledge or experience. If you've done your own investigating, or perhaps a friend has hinted at a potential diagnosis, feel free to bring it up to the veterinarian, but try to avoid creating a diagnosis before you walk in the office. Sharing what you've noticed in your pet is invaluable for your vet, but remember, they're the professionals and are usually the experts in proper diagnoses!
- DO: Bring a Fresh Fecal Sample: If it's time for your pet's annual exam, then your vet will likely run your dog or cat for an annual parasite check. If your pet is experiencing diarrhea, then your vet may look at the stool to determine the cause. No matter, it's better to be safe than sorry – and bringing a stool sample can be very telling to your vet!
- DO: Ask for An Estimate: If your vet suspects a problem that may require additional diagnostics or procedures, don't be afraid to ask for an estimate. Actually, your vet would probably prefer you be up front and ask to avoid any surprises with the final bill. Everyone stands to benefit this way!
- DON'T: Bring Everyone to the Vet's Office: You love your family and friends dearly, but you often only have 30 minutes with the vet, so the fewer guests fighting for your attention, the more time you can focus on what's important during the visit: your pet! If you do bring your kids along, make sure they've got something to remain entertained while mommy and daddy can hear everything the vet is saying.
- DO: Ask About Your Pet's Oral Hygiene: Most pets start to have some form of dental plaque and tartar build up after age three. A thorough dental exam should be done by your veterinarian at each visit. Ask if your pet needs a professional cleaning, and what you should be doing at home to keep you pet's teeth healthy.
- DON'T: Put Off Exams: Annual exams (or semi-annual for older pets) really are necessary! By having your pet examined frequently, your veterinarian can find and address minor problems early on before they turn into something major. Also, if your pet is having a problem, make the appointment sooner rather than later. There's nothing worse than finding out that something that could've been treated early on was left unaddressed for too long.
- DO: Ask About Your Pet's Weight: Studies show that thinner pets live an average of two years longer than overweight pets. With over 60% of American pets being overweight or obese, it's a serious problem. If your veterinarian says that your pet is obese, don't take it the wrong way, they have your pet's best interest at heart! Ask your veterinarian for a detailed weight loss plan, discuss your pet's diet, routine exercise, etc. By being proactive and addressing this properly, you can get your pet's weight under control and hopefully gain a few more happy, and healthy, years together.
If you can keep these in mind for your next visit, you'll help your vet help you in making sure your pet is the healthiest he or she can be – and that's what's most important at the end of the day!
Lastly, if you're looking for a new veterinarian for your pets, I like to recommend trying a few reviews
sites, such as VetRatinz
, which often have lengthy reviews from other pet parents like yourselves about local vet practices, veterinarians, etc. Feel free to post your own as well to help grow this community!
Do you have a question for Dr. Katy about your pet's health? Feel free to ask in the comments below and Dr. Katy will select a few to answer!