If Our Pets Could Talk
By Jackie Kellum
Preparing for a vet appointment. There are two types of visits: planned and unplanned. Obviously, one is less complex than the other, because of your ability to plan ahead of time.
The planned visit involves making an appointment, taking your pet, either in a crate or on a leash, and bringing the animal’s health booklet or necessary papers with you. If this is a first visit, bring whatever adoption paperwork or information about the pet regarding how or where you got it. This will help your veterinarian get to know your pet’s medical history, and if they have had vaccinations or not. If your pet is on any medications, bring those medications with you to the visit. And if your pet has any allergies or any type of sensitivities, inform the vet. For all vet visits, be prepared and write down questions you might have prior to the visit and bring the paper with you.
Remember that in addition to well checks, sick animals also come into the vet office. So it is advisable to keep your pet away from other pets, in a crate or on a leash, as you do not know why that other animal is there, or it might have something contagious. Also, some animals may feel threatened when approached, and may act accordingly.
The unplanned visit usually occurs when your pet is sick. Be prepared. You will be asked a lot of questions. Your vet will have to act like a detective, as the pet cannot express in words how he is feeling. You will have to provide information to the vet to help figure out what the problem is. To help do this, you can write down your pet’s symptoms and things that you have observed. This may include: new or not normal behavior for your pet, differences in appetite, urination, defecation, vomiting/diarrhea, energy level, a new limp, body chewing, signs of pain, an injury/accident/attack by another animal, etc. Every piece of information will be helpful to the vet to find the cause of the problem.
While the vet is examining your pet, pay attention to what is happening and what is being said. If you do not understand a word or what is going on, ask questions until you have a clear understanding of your pet’s situation. Hint: if you cannot explain to another person what is going on with your pet, then you do not understand the situation.
After your pet visit, if it was a planned visit (annual checkup or vaccination), find out when the pet is due back for a follow-up visit, and make a note of this date. If it was an unplanned visit due to illness or injury, have a clear understanding of what is wrong, that is, what is the diagnosis? Specific questions should be asked, including: What caused the condition? How this affects your pet’s general health? What medications are to be taken and the purpose of medicine, any side effects, and any dietary changes to be made? etc. Be sure you know the name of any drugs that the veterinarian prescribed, as well as the dosage, frequency and duration of the medication. Help yourself by researching to learn about this new condition. As with human health for yourself, even when you like and trust your doctor and his care, you still may want to seek a second opinion. Having this concept is not a challenge to your doctor, but may put your mind at rest about what is wrong with you or your pet and prescribed treatment, AND it is smart medicine for all concerned.