Responsible pet owners generally ensure their pets get to the vet once a year for their annual checkup but in the rush to get there, sometimes we forget those important questions we should be asking or we feel too shy. However, a good vet will welcome your questions as it shows that you are concerned about your pet’s long term health. Here are some we feel are important.
Important questions you should be asking
1. Is my pet at a healthy weight?
Many pet owners don’t realise their pets are overweight, believing that a little ‘extra padding’ is a kindness to their dog or cat. However, we see large numbers of overweight pets in our practices and this puts them at risk of potentially fatal disease like diabetes, heart ailments and even cancer. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is within the appropriate weight range for her breed, size and stature. Then, if there is a problem, you can work in tandem on how to solve the issue. This also applies if you suspect your pet is underweight, though it’s less typical.
2. Could I be providing a more appropriate food?
Good health begins with proper nutrition, and who best to ask what is appropriate for your pet than your veterinarian. Unfortunately, many commercial foods do not contain the nutrients our pets need and may even cause allergies and painful conditions like bladder stones. Your vet can recommend a diet that is appropriate for your pet’s life stage, lifestyle and any other factors or underlying health conditions that apply.
3. Is that [Insert Odd Behavior Here] normal?
Don’t automatically assume that your pet wheezing after a bout of exercise is normal, or that it’s common for pets to itch every time they go outside. An annual pet wellness exam is a great time to ask your vet about any peculiarities you’ve noticed in your animal over the past year. Keep a running list as these things happen so you can explain to your doctor exactly what the issue was, when it first occurred and how often it has occurred since.
4. Is my pet up to date on shots?
Annual vaccinations are easily forgotten, especially during lockdown when we seldom left the house. Vaccinations are your pet’s best protection against killer diseases like distemper and leukaemia so don’t neglect them.
5. Does my pet need a dental cleaning?
More than 85% of pets over the age of 3 suffer some form of periodontal disease. If left untreated, this can lead to other more serious health complications such as issues with the kidney, liver, and even the heart as bacteria from infected gums enters the bloodstream. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is due for a dental cleaning. It is best to perform a teeth cleaning when only mild gingivitis and/or tartar are present. This will maintain good dental health and prevent disease before it becomes a problem … which in turn helps you save money and keep your pet healthy! Dental checkups are free.
6. Does my pet need a blood test?
Blood tests screen for a variety of issues, including kidney and liver disease, diabetes, and cancer. Regular blood tests will also give your veterinarian a baseline to compare against as your pet ages.
7. What flea/tick meds do you recommend?
Fleas and ticks are not only a nuisance; they can also transmit deadly diseases to you and your pet. Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to killing and preventing fleas and ticks. Ask your veterinarian about the differences between popular medications on the market (for example, topical versus oral medications) and which suits you and your pet’s lifestyle the best. There are even some oral medications which protect against fleas, ticks and mites for up to 12 weeks with just a single dose.
8. What are these lumps and bumps?
It’s not unusual for lumps and bumps to develop as pets age. However, unusual skin changes can also be an indication of cancer. Point out any new lumps, bumps or strange moles that have appeared since your last visit. The veterinarian can then determine if a biopsy is warranted.
9. Does my pet need a rectal exam?
Every veterinarian has a different way of doing things, but he or she may not perform a full rectal exam on your pet if you don’t ask for one. Rectal exams screen for prostate and rectal cancer, which can be treatable if caught early enough.
10. Can you please explain my bill?
If you ask nicely your veterinarian will be much more likely to explain why a short visit and routine procedures cost what they do. It may seem like a lot of money, but these line item expenses are probably keeping your pet healthy and happy for many years to come.