A pet parent's guide to making the most of vet visits

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Oct 24 2012

Visits to the vet can be stressful, whether your pet is healthy or ill. Maybe your pet hates riding in the car, so you both arrive feeling anxious before you even see the doctor. Maybe you’re worried because your pet is seriously ill. Or maybe you’ve simply got other things on your mind. Whatever your stresses are, try to make the most out of your pet’s veterinary visits by remembering the following tips.

Organize your records

  • Keep a separate folder for each pet. Include vaccine records, microchip information and a list of current medications. This will also help if you need to leave your house in a hurry with your pets, such as during an evacuation.
  • Before your visit, gather pertinent information from the folder to bring with you. If you are visiting a new vet for the first time, bring vaccine records so that they know what vaccines your pet is up to date on. In addition, bring any records of illness.
  • Bring a list of the medications your pet receives, including nutraceuticals and supplements, even if you’ve been seeing your current veterinarian since kitten or puppyhood. This allows your veterinarian or technician to check your medication dosages against their records.

Bring a notepad

  • Write down questions you have before you leave the house. Chances are, once you get to the office, you’ll forget many of the things you’ve been meaning to ask. It may be handy to keep this notebook handy the week before your visit so that you can jot down questions you may think of leading up to your pet’s visit.
  • While in the office, write down any recommendations your veterinarian makes for your pet. With so much going on, you may forget key points once you get home. Having a written record can help remind you. This includes weight control recommendations and food or medication changes.

Ask questions

  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions regarding your pet’s health. Remember, you are their advocate! Even if it’s a touchy subject, chances are that your vet has heard worse. Your pet’s health is your veterinarian’s number one goal.

Schedule your visit appropriately

  • Routine vaccine appointments take far less time than more complicated “sick” appointments, so less time is generally allotted. When you schedule your appointment, be clear about why you are visiting so that the receptionist can schedule enough time to allow the veterinarian to address all of your concerns.

Be honest about finances

  • These are tough economic times for everyone, and good veterinary medicine costs money. Being honest with your veterinarian about your finances allows for the most cost effective plan of action. Veterinary pet insurance, such as a dog insurance or cat insurance plan from Petplan, can help you focus on getting your pet the best treatment available, not the final cost. Regardless of whether you have pet insurance, your veterinarian should always be willing to provide a cost estimate prior to treatment.

Schedule and keep follow-up exams

  • If your veterinarian recommends a follow-up exam, be sure to heed this advice. Follow-ups are important to assess how your pet is responding to treatment.