Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Questions You Might be Asked by Your Vet

By Julia Williams

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 MarĂ­a Helena Carey

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. Those are some mighty good questions to think about. I do ask them to write out instructions etc. but my vets know be really well. Wish me luck, we are on our way to the vet right now.

  2. I think that is very good advice as we do tend to forget things when we are stressed and upset. Good advice indeed.. Thanks.. Hugs GJ xx

  3. THIS is an excellent SUPER EXCELLENT post!!!
    You know what I love about my Dawgtor? If I have to go fur some sicky or owie.. he has my furend.. Office Lady... Call my mom... a few hours after I get back home. ONCE when I was OUT OF STATE... my poop shooter went WILD on me... and we had to go to a strange vet... and THAT guy was grrreat too.. beclaws HE called My Dawgtor back here in OHIO and asked what My Dawgtor wanted him to do fur me. AND then... that Night... My Dawgtor... himself called me... in Pencil Vane E Ah... just to be sure my poop shooter was gettin better. A GOOOOOOOOOOD Dawgtor Can't be beat!! BUTT, they DO rely on our peeps to tell them the imPAWtant stuffs... and your list is just grrrreat.

  4. Julia, I loved today's post. To some of us it seems pretty standard things to be prepared for. But to those that are not and may have just recently adopted a pet or became a new pet owner, it is awesome. Thank you so much for all your informative blogs.

  5. I think it is pretty amazing how they dan make a correct diagnosos most of the time with the information they have. Great post!

  6. great advice, great questions! Thankfully my vet knows both of my animals super well but still some of these questions DO come up, especially w/a new vet!

  7. Thank you for this post. It is very helpful. Hugs

  8. Excellent list of questions! Going to the vet is such a stressful experience for a lot of pet owners; giving these questions some thought beforehand will surely be a great help to many. :)


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