Getting the Most out of Your Pet’s Veterinary Visits

Always call your veterinary if any medical emergency occurs or in the slightest doubt as to your pet’s condition.

This information sheet is designed to help non-veterinary people evaluate the health of cats and dogs. Its not a comprehensive guide and will not give you all the answers. Also, its not meant to replace veterinary care or advice.

Karin Kandur

When making an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian, the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association recommends the following tips to make sure your pet benefits from a complete health examination.

What to Bring.
If you recently moved, bring a copy of your pet’s medical records with you. Write down any medications your pet may be taking and the dosage. When making an appointment, ask if you should bring a sample of your pet’s stool or urine.

Make a List.
Write down all the things that concern you about your pet: hair coat, diet, exercise program, toilet habits, etc. This will help you communicate better.

Write it Down.
Don’t be afraid to write down the information your veterinarian provides to you. Ask if there is a handout or a brochure containing more details.

Don’t Be Embarrassed.
Your pet’s veterinarian is the other family doctor. There’s no need to feel awkward about asking anything or mentioning something that you’ve noticed. Your veterinarian wants to help keep your pet healthy and happy. Without your observations, important information may be missed.

Ask About Emergency Coverage.
Find out the process for after hours emergencies. If the veterinary hospital refers its patients to an emergency facility, be sure you know the address, phone number, and hours.

Types of Visits and Common Questions

New Puppy/Kitten Visits.
Owners of new puppies and kittens have many questions about house-training and litter training, diet, obedience, behavior, spay/neuter and vaccination schedules. Your veterinarian is very experienced and comfortable with these questions.

Sick Visits.
Write down the history of your pet’s illness. Did your pet stop eating? Is he vomiting? How often? What is he vomiting? Could he have eaten something he shouldn’t have? What might it have been? Was your pet in a fight with another animal? Has he recently been in a kennel? Did you change your pet’s diet recently? Veterinarians have to be detectives when it comes to diagnosing some diseases and the history you provide is very valuable and may help your veterinarian save your pet’s life.

Wellness Visits.
Healthy adult pets still require a health exam. Ask which vaccinations are appropriate for your pet and inquire about seasonal concerns such as fleas and ticks. This is also a great time to discuss up-coming events that might affect your pet such as vacations and visitors. Did you know that many pet owners ask their veterinarians how to help their pets adjust to a new baby?

The Older Pet.
If your pet is getting older, ask about your pet’s tolerance for exercise, how to recognize senile behavior, what to do about arthritis and other aches and pains, and if a blood panel is necessary to evaluate your pet’s blood and organ health.

Always call your veterinary if any medical emergency occurs or in the slightest doubt as to your pet’s condition.

This information sheet is designed to help non-veterinary people evaluate the health of cats and dogs. Its not a comprehensive guide and will not give you all the answers.  Also, its not meant to replace veterinary care or advice.

Dr. Lila Miller, D.V.M., ASPCA Sr. Director Animal Sciences & Vet Advisor

THE BASIC HEALTH EXAMINATION
Some Basic, Commonly Used Drugs

  • Ear miticide
  • Oral antibiotics such as Clavamox, Clindamycin
  • Fluids such as lactated ringers, dextrose
  • Anthelmintics such as Strongid T, Albon and metronidazole
  • Ivermectin injectable
  • Flea and tip dip such as paramite
  • Flea powder
  • Antibiotic eye ointment and drops
  • Antibiotic ear preparation such as panolog
  • Eye Wash
  • Oticlens
  • Ace promazine injectable and tablets
  • Rompun injectable
  • Injectable long actinc, penicillin
  • Griseofulvin
  • Vaseline or K-Y jelly
  • Anti-diarrheal such as Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Cough syrup- generic glyceryl guaicolate