Wednesday, July 14, 2010

10 Important questions your veterinarian will ask that you should be prepared to answer

A visit to your veterinarian doesn’t just involve your pet and the clinic staff; it includes YOU, the most important part of your pet’s health care team. The veterinarian relies on you to identify concerns about your pet’s health just as a pediatrician relies on a child’s parents.

Although you may wonder what the questions we ask have to do with your current concerns, answering them honestly and completely is essential. In fact this process (known as acquiring the history) is one of the most important parts of the visit and may help us identify your pet’s health problem.

If the person taking your pet to the veterinarian will not be able to answer these questions I recommend that you write down the answers to these questions and send them with your pet or provide a phone number where you can be reached so that we may ask these questions.

1. Any coughing, sneezing, vomiting or diarrhea?

You will be asked when does it occur (day or night or at any time), how often, the color of material produced, whether it is improving, worsening or the same.

2. Changes to appetite, water consumption or urination?

Many diseases will cause your pet to eat more or less, drink more and urinate more often. If your pet has not been finishing meals, continuously begs for food, you have been filling the water bowl more often, have noticed urinary accidents in the house (especially at night when you can not take your pet out) or have been scooping more clumps of litter these may be an indication that your pet has a medical condition. Your veterinarian will want to take a urine and blood sample as a start.

3. Are you giving any medications?

It is very important to identify ANY AND ALL medications your pet is currently receiving including preventatives, vitamins and over-the-counter products. Know the name, milligrams, how much and how often you are administering the medication. Sometimes bringing the medication with you is easiest. DO NOT withhold any information as medications your veterinarian prescribes may react with a current one potentially causing serious health problems.

4. Travel History?

Many diseases occur more commonly in specific areas of the country. If you travel to certain areas your pet may be exposed to different diseases. Also, if you are planning on traveling, your veterinarian may suggest certain preventative medications that target not only fleas but also ticks and heartworms.

5. Are there other pets in the house and do they have any medical conditions?

This is important in situations where diseases that are potentially contagious are of concern. Your veterinarian will provide tips on how to monitor your other pets for signs that they are also affected or provide treatment for your other pets.

6. Indoors only? If outdoors are they always supervised or sometimes unsupervised?

We all know that there are certain dangers that come with being outdoors. If your pet is indoors only it may help your veterinarian narrow down why your pet is sick.

7. Previous medical history?

This is a very important question as your pet may be affected by a recurrence of a previous disease or the treatments for one disease may make another disease worse.

8. Are vaccines up to date? Which have been given and when were they last given?

This question is important for many reasons. If your pet has not been properly vaccinated for a specific disease your veterinarian may be more suspicious of what is making your pet sick. Also, certain vaccinations can cause tests for that specific disease to be positive even though your pet does not have that disease.

9. What do you feed your pet and how much? Include treats and table scraps.

What you feed your pet is very important to their health. Certain diets may not be ideal for your pet’s life stage or for certain medical conditions. Also, on occasion, food recalls occur and at certain times these foods may have serious effects on your pet’s health. You or a guest may unknowingly have fed your pet a food item that is toxic to them.

10. Any other changes you have noticed or concerns you may have?

Things you bring up during this period may provide additional insight into what has been going on. Even if you think what you are about to say is unimportant or may make your veterinarian think you are crazy bring it up, you will be surprised how many times this piece of information may be the biggest clue in figuring out what’s wrong with your pet.