10 Things Your Veterinarian Wants You to Know
Your veterinarian is trained to care for your pet—and is privileged to do so. But no amount of training or fancy, high-tech equipment can replace one crucial piece of the animal-care puzzle: communication between you and your pet’s doctor. Here are 10 things most of us veterinarians would like you to know, but may not tell you.
- Talk to us. Tell us your expectations for your pet’s care. A complete cure? Pain control? Hospice? Medical advances mean we can do more and more for your pet, but that may not be what you want. Veterinarians won’t order unnecessary tests or procedures, but you need to let us know the level of care you expect for your pet, as well as your emotional and financial limitations, so we can deliver optimum care.
- Write it down. There’s nothing more helpful than bringing in a list of problems your pet has, concerns you want to discuss, and questions you want to ask so that you don’t forget anything when you visit. There’s a lot going on when you come to the veterinary practice, and it’s beneficial to have all the pertinent information ready for us when you arrive at your pet’s appointment.
- Make a call. Sometimes things that seem unimportant to you are serious signs to us and may indicate a big problem in the making. Sometimes it’s the other way around, and your pet’s odd behavior is nothing to worry about. But if your pet’s behavior changes or you have a concern, however slight, we’d prefer you call and ask. You should be able to easily get a hold of one of our veterinary technicians to see what they think.
- Be proactive. Along these same lines, don’t wait too long to address an issue your pet is experiencing. Many problems in pets double in seriousness every 24 hours. For many conditions, fast action and early treatment can save your pet suffering and ensure a more complete cure. Remember, the first time you think about calling us, you should.
- Ask us questions. We spend a lot of time trying to make your pet’s disease understandable, but our communication skills are sometimes lacking. If you don’t understand what’s going on with your pet, ask us to explain. If you’re still confused, ask again. Request handouts and reference materials so you can read about your pet’s problem. And if you aren’t getting satisfactory results, ask for a referral to a specialist.
- Use the Internet wisely. The Internet is a great source of information if you go to the right sites. Look at our veterinary practice website for reference links, or ask us for an authoritative site that covers your pet’s illness. We know the Internet can be a big help. But don’t try to diagnose your pet’s problem online; the Web rarely offers up a correct diagnosis. More often than not, when people tell us they’re afraid their pet has some terrible disease they read about on the Web, it turns out that their pet’s ailment is something simple and fixable.
- Medicine isn’t cheap. MRIs, neurosurgery, and joint replacements are common procedures for pets nowadays. While we’re able to deliver excellent health care for pets at a fraction of what it costs humans, many pets still aren’t covered by insurance, so such treatments can quickly empty a bank account. Be honest about what you can afford. We can almost always do something, if not everything, for your pet. And look into health insurance for young pets. A policy is inexpensive and may save your pet’s life someday if it covers a costly procedure.
- Demand pain relief. We can’t always provide a cure for pets, but we can usually provide them with a pain-free existence. Cats and dogs feel pain just as we do—they just can’t tell us about it. The field of pain relief is well advanced, and pain relief is generally simple and inexpensive. So demand pain relief for your pet. It’s the least you can do.
- Practice prevention. Treatments can be difficult and costly, so it’s best to prevent illness and disease in the first place. While this isn’t always possible, regular exams, proper diet, and exercise can delay or prevent many conditions. Ask your veterinarian about wellness care and preventive steps if your pet is predisposed to a particular problem.
- See us first. The best time to find a veterinarian is before you get a pet. We can tell you if the pet you’re considering has predispositions to health problems and give you a good idea if the pet’s temperament is a good fit for you. Most animals end up in shelters because of behavior problems, and those are often due simply to the wrong choice of pet. Ask us first and have no regrets later.