Posted by: My Personal Vet | March 5, 2010

Ways to make the most of your Veterinarian’s visit

Getting the best value at your vet’s visit

While examining a dog recently, and talking with his owner, it occurred to me there are several things an owner can do to improve the value of the vet’s visit.  Most are very simple.

Here are 3 examples (I’m sure I’ll think of more later and post them, too):

1.  Don’t bathe them ahead of time unless they are going in for surgery.

The point is this: You don’t want to wash away any clues that may help diagnose the problem.  Fleas leave flea dirt.  A tuft of hair coming out could mean ringworm or mites but if there is lick staining around it could mean something completely different.  Even a stray foxtail can give a clue as to why the puppy is sneezing.  After a bath, you can’t tell what was washed away.  The effort of giving a bath is appreciated.  But believe me, vets don’t care if the critter is dirty — they care more about all the clues that can lead them to the right diagnosis.

2.  Never waste a sample.

A lot of times, especially dogs, will urinate or defecate just before their appointment.  Owners will try to be kind and take them for a walk ahead of time.  Or wipe up the floor if there’s an accident.  Certainly, picking it up is always polite and necessary. But if the problem has anything at all to do with feces or urine, it may take a while until the dog or cat has more ready for us. Even if you think your pet is healthy, the sample you throw away may provide important microscopic information.  You may be surprised how much information can be gained by all the “free samples” you’d like to throw away.  If you can, and it doesn’t bother the critter, have your pet wait to urinate or defecate until their appointment.  If you think it’s been too long, just ask your vet.

3.  Keep a logbook of symptoms.

As soon as you notice something seems off, write down what you see – just what seems abnormal.  It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged diary or blog.  But it can be hard to remember all the details when the vet or nurse start asking specifics. It’s much better to know for sure than to guess.  Keeping a calendar with notes can really help.  When something happens, let’s say they don’t want to eat dinner and they ALWAYS eat their dinner!  Write it down.  Just keep track of what happens, when, how often.  Maybe note any change of attitude or breathing.  Don’t worry about the diagnosis.  Just write the symptoms as accurately as possible.  It can also help to remember if something changed or happened the week before, too.  Bring the notes with you.  I always like to see them. A logbook can really help everyone.
I hope this helps smooth the way to quicker and simpler vet visits for all.

Dr. Evelyn Sharp, DVM

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