We're heading to another specialist for Foyle next week which makes me think that in the past few years we have racked up more vet "mileage" than I could have ever imagined. But if it weren't for an amazing group of friends who have supported us and a few amazing veterinarians who have kept my crew healthy, happy, and literally alive I would have stuck with only one dog a long time ago. I am very lucky that my veterinarian has become a good friend but I realize that she has good days and bad days and frustrating clients like everyone else.
One thing I've learned through her is that a veterinarian's time is precious and although your situation may be critical or an emergency to you (and sometimes it really is) it helps to be succinct and prepared. Here are my top 10 recommendations to make your vet appointment go smoother and help with the diagnosis:
- Be prepared with a full medical history of your pet. We keep binders on each dog documenting every vet visit, test result, vaccination, surgery, microchip identification, and certifications. This especially helps when seeing multiple specialties so they know exactly what has been done to your pet and can apply appropriate treatments. I have been using the Pet Dossier app to keep track also but just found My Medical app which was developed for humans but has the ability to upload documents and xrays! Also, bring your insurance information with you so you can fill it out and fax it right after your visit. My vet now keeps our forms and the coverage list on file for us.
- Bring a list of symptoms your pet has been experiencing. It's easy to forget what symptoms your pet has been exhibiting when you are stressed and scared so take a moment and write down what you think the problems is or what your pet has been experiencing.
- Be polite and respectful to your veterinarian and their staff. I go out of my way to give my clinic little extras like treats, special coffee, and wine at Christmas as a sincere "thank you" for treating my dogs so well. If you can make their day a little more special and show that you appreciate them it goes a long way. You don't want to be the client they make fun of when they hang up the phone!
- Be on time and call if you are going to be late. I know it isn't fair that you have to wait 45 minutes or more for your appointment but get bumped if you are late, but if you follow 1-3 they are more forgiving.
- Speak up if you do not understand the diagnosis, medication side effects, or a treatment that you feel uncomfortable with. I've sat with many vets as they went through line by line of a CBC test, TPLO xrays, and radiographs so I understood my options.
- Ask if you can get a generic pill or if they will call your prescription in to a local pharmacy like Target or Walgreens. You can save up to half the cost and when Clavamox for a Newfie costs @ $18 a day for two rounds you save a lot of money sometimes!
- Bring a pad of paper with you to write down treatments, options, recommendations, etc. You'll forget the minute you leave the vet because you've spent the last hour crying....especially over the bill. Plus, how many of us go home and immediately look up the diagnosis on line? I do!
- Ask for copies of your dogs' records, test results, and even a cd of radiographs and xrays. You've paid for them and other vets may want to take the same tests so it could save you time and money. Put it right in your binder so you don't lose it!
- Ask ahead of time if they do not get a good ultrasound image or xray if they will take another one for free. This is very important because illegible images result in misread diagnosis or inconclusive results and another vet may want to take them again at a substantial cost.
- Be clear about your financial limitations, physical limitations, or the extent you are willing to go to for your pet. Nothing is more heartbreaking than when you want to do absolutely everything for your pet but knowing in the back of your mind that you may not be able to financially, or work a full time job and can't stay home with your pet as they recuperate. Ask about other options, ways to keep your pet comfortable for as long as possible, or external caregivers they recommend.
I wrote this because of the site vetsbehavingbadly.com and realizing what my vet and your vet go through on a day to day basis! They are human too!