Tuesday, October 4, 2011
When our four legged friends get sick or injured, we rely on the expertise of our veterinarian to help them get well, and most do an excellent job. However, there are times when we, as the pet’s guardian, can either help or hinder the vet’s ability to do their job and make an accurate diagnosis. Of course we want to help them because we want a healthy pet, but we might unknowingly hinder them by not being as prepared as we possibly can.
Many times, in order to know what’s wrong with our pet, the vet will need to ask us a lot of questions. How we answer – or don’t answer – can make all the difference. When it comes to my pet’s health, I like to think of that well known saying, “There is no such thing as being too prepared.”
Before your pet needs to see the vet, it’s a good idea to write down the answers to possible questions they might ask. You may know some of the answers by heart, but writing them down makes the vet visit less stressful because you know there’s no chance you’ll forget. And it allows you to review them before the vet visit so you can be prepared.
Questions You Might Be Asked
How old is your pet? (Write down their exact birth date if you know it).
How long have you had your pet, and where did you get them?
Have there been any recent changes in your pet’s diet and/or eating habits?
Has your pet been vaccinated? If so, which vaccines and when did they receive them?
Does your pet receive flea treatment? What kind, and how often?
Has your pet ever experienced an illness/injury similar to this one?
Is your pet currently under treatment for an illness or injury?
Are they on any medication? What are they taking, and what is it for?
What brand of pet food are you feeding them? How much, and how many meals per day?
How much water does your pet typically drink every day? Have there been any recent changes in that amount?
Do you let your pet have table scraps, and if so, what do you give them?
What type of treats are they given, and how often?
Is the majority of your pet's time spent indoors or outdoors?
Have you noticed any lumps or bumps on your pet? Any coughing or sneezing?
Are they urinating normally and having normal bowel movements?
Is your pet able to eat and drink, and do they still have an appetite?
Have you noticed any recent weight loss or weight gain?
What to Bring on a Vet Visit
If you’re seeing a new vet for the first time, be sure to arrange to have your pet’s records transferred from their previous vet. It’s also helpful to write down your pet's symptoms, including when they started and the frequency, if applicable. Putting your observations on paper will help you remember anything that might be important for the vet to know, and will subsequently help them make a quick and accurate diagnosis of the problem.
If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance, bring it with you if you can. Knowing what they’ve ingested will allow vet to treat them quickly and specifically for the particular poison. If your pet is on medication, bring the container with you so your vet will know exactly what they are taking and what the dosage is.
Understand the Treatment Plan
Before you take your pet home from the vet clinic, make sure you know exactly what's expected of you in terms of your pet’s recovery process. For example, be sure you understand how many pills or antibiotic doses they need, and how many times a day you should administer them. If you need to apply warm compresses to an abscess, make sure you understand the procedure. If you need to change bandages, have the vet or tech show you what to do. Make sure you understand whether you're expected to return for any additional tests, X-rays, suture removal or follow-up visit.
Don't hesitate to ask your vet to clarify something you don’t understand. And if you’re like me and have a hard time remembering nitty gritty details, don’t be shy about asking them to write out instructions. It’s your pet, and you have a right to feel confident in knowing how to care for them during an illness or injury. If your vet is a good one, they’ll want that too!
Photo by María Helena Carey
Read more articles by Julia Williams