How to get the most out of your visit to the vet

Visits to the vet can be as stressful for pet owners as for their pets.

You’re worried sick about your ailing pet. You’re also anxious about the other dogs and cats in the waiting room, and you’re probably worried what this may cost.

Sometimes we’re so anxious we forget to ask the vet those important questions we thought of at home.

Here are some simple tips to help smooth your visit to the vet, and to get the best out of it.

1. Come prepared

Always make sure you have a list of questions/concerns written down.

2. Bring as much of your pet’s history as you can

Tell your vet anything you can remember: what medical treatment your pet has had in the past; vaccinations, allergies; injuries; even gut feelings that you are worried about. Your vet won’t laugh or think you’re ridiculous. The more information a vet has the more successful diagnosis and treatment. If your pet is behaving oddly, try to bring a video clip on your phone, showing their behaviour.

3. Bring a list of the medication your pet is currently taking

It is essential for your vet to know what medication your pet is currently taking, and also what medication he or she has taken in the past. If your pet has diarrhoea, please try to bring a stool sample. If they have a urinary tract problem, e.g. incontinence, please try and bring a urine sample.

4. Bring a friend/family member on your vet visit

If your child or husband or a friend is better at remembering things about your pet, bring them along.

 4. Protect your pet and others!

Ensure your cat is properly crated and your dog on a lead or harness. If your pet is aggressive or anxious, warn your veterinary surgery when you make the appointment and warn your vet when you go into see her or him.

5. When you meet the vet

He or she should give your pet a thorough examination while asking you more detailed questions. The examination should include temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, pulse, mucous membrane colour, and lymph node check. Then eyes, ears, teeth. Then your vet will listen to your pet’s heart and lungs and palpate the abdomen. And then, if it is relevant, a musculoskeletal examination and check the joints. After the examination your vet will explain her/his findings and, together with the pet’s history, will then make a recommendation on further tests/treatment.

6. Be sure to ask these important questions

a) What is the gold standard of treatment?

b) What are the pros and cons of doing a certain tests/treatment?

c) What are the side effects of the medication?

d) How should I dose the medication?

e) When should I expect an improvement and what should I look out for?

f) When should I bring my pet for a follow up?

If you are well prepared and know what to expect when you get to the vet, the visit should be a lot smoother than anticipated. And remember, a calm owner means your pet will be less anxious too.