Of course, you want to get the most out of your vet appointment. You made an appointment and took off work. Then you got your dog into the car or your cat into it’s carrier. You saw the doctor and had an exam, got your medications and paid your bill. Now you’re home and realize you forgot to ask a question. Or you don’t remember what the doctor said. Maybe you you’ve been feeding your dog hot-dogs and weren’t completely honest about why your pup’s tummy might be upset. Try using our top ten tips for getting the most out of your vet appointment.
1 Write down your questions before you go
You probably won’t be able to remember every question you had. It’s easy to get distracted during a doctor’s appointment and forget what you wanted to ask. However, if you have a written list of questions, you’re much more likely to get the answers you need. If your appointment is for your pet’s annual exam it may be a quick visit. Most doctors can do a complete physical while chatting with you and you didn’t even notice. If you haven’t written your questions down and made sure to ask them, you can find yourself checking out at the front desk before you know it. Yearly exams are super important. Annuals are also a great time to ask general questions you’ve thought of through out the year but weren’t urgent enough to call and ask.
You’re paying good money for your appointment time. Don’t waste it. Be sure you really listen to what the doctor is saying. You may be given a lot of information in a short amount of time. Especially if your animal is ill. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. It’s important that you understand the doctor’s instructions.
3 Write it down
Write down the answers to your questions. It’s virtually impossible to remember everything that was discussed. Write down anything you may need to recall later. Most importantly, write down any instructions you were given.
4 Be honest
You fed your dog 2 hot-dogs, now it’s vomiting and you feel stupid. You think your dog may have ingested marijuana and you’re afraid of being ratted out. Your cat has been licking your testosterone cream and you’re embarrassed. Three pairs of your underwear are missing and now your dog isn’t eating. Trust me, we’ve seen it all. No, your pet shouldn’t be eating hot-dogs, drugs or underwear. But, stuff happens. The important thing is that the doctor knows what to treat. If she doesn’t know what happened, she may spend unnecessary time and money trying to figure it out.
5 Ask for reliable resources
Everyone visits doctor google. Make sure you know exactly what you’re researching. Many things in medicine are very similar in name or symptoms, but are very different. Ask for reliable websites. The best place to get reliable information is from reliable veterinary sites. Facebook and blogs are not reliable resources. In other words, don’t trust everything you read on the internet, even from well-meaning people. Doing research at home when your pet had been diagnosed with a disease can definitely help you to understand what is happening with your baby. Doctor appointments are not long enough to fully understand a lot of diseases. You may need many days of reading to absorb the information you need. Let your doctor direct you to information that is trustworthy.
6 Let the staff restrain your pet
It’s for the safety of you, your pet and the staff. I know you want to hold your pet yourself. I know it makes them feel better. But, the doctor cannot adequately examine your pet if he’s distracted. The staff is very well trained in pet restraint. They know what position your fur baby needs to be in and when. They do this all day and have a routine. Everything will be much faster and safer if you let them do their job. The best thing you can do is quietly talk to your animal and pet their head for reassurance. We want to get your pet back in your arms as quickly as possible. You can’t get the most from your vet appointment if the doctor can not thoroughly examine your pet.
7 Ask for an estimate if you need one
No-one has an unlimited budget. If cost crosses your mind, just ask.
8 Don’t assume it’s all or nothing
If you can’t afford the recommend diagnostics or treatment, talk with the doctor about what you can do within your budget. If you have a definite budget, let us know. It’s part of the job to help you decide where your money is best spent. We want to help you give your pet the best care possible.
9 If you are not able to medicate your animal easily, ask if there are any alternatives
Maybe your cat froths at the mouth for 10 minutes when you give him liquid medications. Maybe your dog eats around any pill you try to hide in cheese and clamps his jaw when you try to put it down his throat. The doctor may be able to choose a different medication that will be easier for you to give. Maybe an injection can be given instead of your needing to give an oral medication. And most medication can be made in different forms by a compounding pharmacy. Some medications can even be made in a gel you rub on the ear.
10 Don’t cancel your recheck appointment
Part of getting the most out of your vet appointment is following up! Don’t cancel your recheck appointment, even if you think your pet doesn’t need it. Recheck exams are important. So many times, a dog has come in with a horrible ear infection. The same ear was just treated a month ago and now it’s back. The likelihood is, it never cleared up in the first place. And now, it’s worse. Sometimes a pet’s ear infection, skin infection, etc. seems better but it isn’t completely gone. That’s what recheck exams are for. The doctor wants to make sure further treatment isn’t necessary. If you really think your recheck exam isn’t necessary, call and ask. Some things may not require another exam if everything is going well. But you may be given a reason why it’s important.