When your pet needs to see the vet, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and forget to ask critical questions. This can result in frustrating follow-ups and endless Google searches.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are several ways to ensure that your vet answers all of the essential questions and you feel armed with knowledge about your pet's health.
You should ask your vet questions about illness prevention, training, behavior, and life stages—to name a few. For a vet, there’s no question too vague or too niche. Whatever you feel would benefit your pet to know, you should certainly ask.
Before the next vet appointment, reference this article for preparation tips and questions that you should ask your pet's provider.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
Several days (or even a few weeks) prior your pet's appointment, start observing them and taking notes about their condition. This helps guarantee that you're providing the vet with the most helpful, accurate information.
It's also wise to keep all of the paperwork that you get from your vet in a centralized place so you can easily access their medical records. You can review previous conditions, medications, and vaccinations before the appointment so that you're able to easily talk to the vet about your pet's medical history. Make a list of any supplements your pet takes and food your pet eats.
If you're seeing a vet because of a physical issue, it can be helpful to provide the vet with a video or picture of your pet’s condition. This will be valuable because sometimes, pets don't exhibit the behavior or symptom in the presence of the vet.
Lastly, bring any questions that you might want to ask the vet.
What should I ask the vet?
When you get to the vet, have your questions handy so you don't forget to ask them.
Here are some suggestions for things to ask the vet:
1. Does my pet have their vaccinations?
Ensuring that your pet has the recommended vaccinations is essential to their health and wellbeing. Not only do vaccinations protect your pet against illness, but they can also help you avoid expensive treatment for diseases that could have been prevented.
Vaccinations are also important if you have more than one pet. These life-saving shots can help stop the spread of diseases between animals or even between animals and people. In addition, many states and cities require pets to have certain vaccinations.
At any vet visit, ask the veterinarian if your pet is up to date on their vaccines. This will help ensure that there is never a time when your pet is unprotected. Inquire about shots that are considered elective but may be recommended in your area. For example, some pets receive a rattlesnake vaccine to protect against realistic local threats.
2. Is my pet a healthy weight?
Obesity is the most common preventable disease for domestic pets. Not only can obesity shorten your pet’s life, but it will also increase the chance that they will develop diseases.
Ask your vet about your pet’s weight every time you see them so that you can ensure that if they begin to gain weight, you're prepared to take steps to help them become healthier.
3. Can you recommend a trainer?
If you've noticed that your dog or cat has behavioral problems or could use some brushing up, you might want to invest in professional training. You can ask your vet to recommend a trainer that they believe would help your pet with their particular situation.
4. Are my pet’s behaviors normal?
If your pet has any “quirks” or unusual behaviors, it’s worth mentioning these to your vet at your next appointment. If your pet has recently acquired any unusual behaviors, it’s even more essential that you mention these.
Telling a vet about your pet’s odd behaviors can help them catch something in case there's an underlying medical condition.
5. Should I change my pet’s food?
If you feel that your pet does not have enough nutrients in their food (of if they're exhibiting behaviors that suggest this), you will want to ask about changing their food.
Alternatively, if your pet is throwing up or having diarrhea, asking the vet about their food can be valuable. You want to ensure your pet’s food is providing them with the proper nutrition.
6. What types of medicines should I use?
This depends on your pet’s individual condition. If your pet is already on medication, you can bring your pet back to the vet after some time to ensure that it's working. If you notice that your pet is not responding to their medication anymore, a vet would be able to provide insight about how to move forward.
Additionally, if you fear something is wrong with your pet and you believe they need medication, be sure to ask about this at your appointment.
7. Do their teeth look ok?
Rough tartar can accumulate on the surface of your pet's teeth and touch the gum line. If this is the case, your pet could need dental treatment. It’s always wise to ask a vet what they think about your pet’s teeth, as sometimes it's tricky to figure out if your pet’s teeth are okay.
Brushing your dog’s teeth is part of a regular maintenance routine to prevent dental disease. Your vet may also recommend professional dental cleanings as well.
8. Are these lumps normal?
Lumps on a pet are not uncommon. While they're not all indicative of a more serious medical condition, some could be.
If you notice that your pet has lumps, it's critical that you reach out to a veterinarian to ensure that they're benign.
9. Will you send follow-up notes after the appointment?
Sometimes, it's difficult to remember everything your vet told you during the appointment. If you haven't taken notes yourself, ask the vet if they'll send a detailed report once it's over.
Some pet parents prefer to record conversations with their vet, but you should always ask permission first. This is not only good etiquette, but also could help you stay out of legal trouble in some states and countries.
When should I ask my questions?
For some vet visits, one of the questions could be the cause of the visit. In this case, asking the question first would make the most sense. In other situations, giving your vet the opportunity to examine your dog or cat first and then asking your questions is a better course of action.
In general, there’s never a wrong time to ask questions, and it’s better to have more than less.
Get peace of mind at your vet appointment
Bringing your pet to the vet can be overwhelming, but if you know what you should ask, you can help ensure that you get peace of mind and a snapshot of your pet’s health.
When you can't get into the vet or aren't sure if it's necessary, Pawp’s VetPros can help answer some of these questions via telehealth.