Dr. Katy: Making the Most of Your Vet Visit
- 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.
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!