If you’ve been a pet owner for a while now, I know you can relate when your pet’s yearly check-ups arrive and you’re mostly clueless on what to ask. There are too many questions that would pop up in our heads and some questions that are necessary to ask but most pet owners are not aware of. This is why bringing a list of questions to ask your vet at your next appointment is a smart thing to do!
Whether you’re a first-time adopter or have been a pet owner for a long time, you should note your questions, along with your pet’s medical history, dietary notes, and troubling symptoms to make sure that you tackle every single detail that needs to be addressed to your vet, and to also make sure your money doesn’t go to waste!
Take advantage of this one-on-one meeting with your vet and get the answers to any questions about your pet you've never asked before and have the proper knowledge to keep your fur babies healthy and happy! Here are 7 questions you can ask your vet to start your conversation:
1. What should I feed my pet?
Just as how our diet is important for our health and physique, your fur babies also need the right diet that fits them (age, size, breed, and activity level) This is why choosing what to feed your pet is one of the most important decisions a pet owner should make every day.
You should tell your vet about your pet’s feeding habits: what brand of food, how much you feed, how often, and where your pet’s food bowl is located. It’s also important to take consider who feeds your pet, is it you or one of your family members especially if you’re maybe out for work? These basic questions will help your vet advise you on the best nutrition for your pet’s lifestyle, life stage, and any other factors or underlying health conditions your pet may have such as allergies or irritable bowel syndrome. Utilize your vet’s knowledge to help you choose the best diet for your pet’s special nutritional needs.
2. What is the ideal weight for my pet?
Your vet will base their answers according to your pet's breed, size, age, and stature. It's important to know if you need to change your pet’s diet because being overweight could cause diseases. Overweight pets are at risk for diabetes and heart disease not to mention shorten their lifespans. In contrast, being underweight may point to a parasitic infection or chronic illness.
So if there’s a problem, whether they are underweight or overweight, ask for your vet’s help right away on how to solve the issue. What’s great about this is your vet will record and track your pet’s weight and they can also give you weight targets and recommendations on how to achieve those desired weight goals.
Here's some tips on how to avoid your pets from getting overweight: Expert Advice on Obese Pets & How to Prevent It
3. What should I do with my pet’s strange/bad behaviors?
Whether it’s barking or jumping on your visitors or neighbors, jumping up on guests, urinating or defecating at household things, or destroying them, the best time to correct your pet’s negative behaviors is when they’re just beginning. Too many pet owners are embarrassed or think the problem isn’t vet-worthy or belittle the fact that it’s just a sudden change of behavior thinking that they could change this on their own. But there’s never a behavior that isn’t significant for even a subtle change of your pet’s behavior can quickly get worse.
Even little behaviors such as wheezing after exercise or your pet’s itch are not normal especially if it happens all the time! An annual pet wellness exam is a great time to ask your vet about any strange behaviors you’ve noticed in your pet. Write a list of these behaviors, when it first occurred and how often it has occurred, you can record them on video too so you can discuss them with your vet in detail!
You can read these 10 Effective Ways of Positive Reinforcement on Pets & How to Stop Excessive Barking to learn more!
4. How much exercise does my pet need?
Exercising your pet will not only improve their physical and mental strength but yours as well! It also allows you to bond more with your fur baby, helps with weight loss, and curbs behavioral issues such as furniture scratching or trash rummaging. But it is important to take note that your pet’s exercise program also depends on their breed, age, size, and medical history. Your vet can help you find the best exercise program and take into account your pet’s energy level, personality, abilities, and exercise opportunities in your area and outline an exercise program that best fits you and your pet.
For puppies, several daily play sessions or short walks would be okay as they are still growing. In larger and working dogs, in general, have higher energy needs than smaller/toy breeds which need less exercise. Medium and large dogs typically make better long-distance running partners. If your dog can run longer than you are able, you may want to consider biking while having your dog run beside you on a leash but be extra careful and do this bit by bit as it can be quite dangerous. Smaller dogs are better suited for shorter distance running or walking. Ideally, dogs should get out twice daily for exercise. Times may vary from 15-60 minutes, depending on your pet.
Also take into account that sedentary adult dogs such as Chihuahuas and Great Danes may need less physical and mental stimulation and short-nosed dogs such as bulldogs have respiratory issues that make exercise difficult. That’s why it is important to consult your vet to know more about their special needs.
Most indoor cats need about 30 minutes of play a day, divided into two sessions. cat-sized hamster wheels, fishing-pole toys with feathers, crinkle balls, and puzzle feeders should do the trick if your cat isn’t trained to leash-walk.
Here's some great ways to exercise your pet:7 Outdoor Activities to Try with your Pet, Best Interactive Toys for your Pet, & 11 Fun Ways to Keep your Pet Active Indoors
5. What medical exams/procedures does my pet need?
A veterinarian looks at everything from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. This includes the teeth, ears, lymph nodes, heart, lungs, skin, and joints. The vet will also take your pet's temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate. These are the medical issues you can ask for an overall checkup:
- Fleas, ticks, heartworm disease
There are many products out there to treat fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Some of these products might not be safe for your pet and can cause severe reactions that may be life-threatening that’s why consulting a veterinarian is essential to help you find a safe product, meets your pet’s needs, and easy for you to use. And the most effective flea, tick, and heartworm medications are actually available only through a vet. When recommending a product to you, your vet will consider the route of administration and show you exactly where to place the topical as well as how to give the chewable, or how to ensure the collar is fitted correctly. They may prefer a combination of heartworm and flea preventives to make administration easier and save money. This is why it is very crucial to regularly see your vet to get the proper prescription.
Here's 7 Tips on How to Prevent Flea and Tick Bites on your Pets that can help you start treating those pesky fleas and ticks in your pet!
- Dental cleaning
Some pet owners mistake that their pet’s smelly mouth is normal because of what they eat but this is not normal! Dental disease is a common problem among pets and an estimated 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 years suffer from some degree of periodontal disease. If left untreated, this can lead to other more serious health complications such as issues with the kidney, liver, even the heart. Regular veterinary consultations will give your vet a chance to monitor your pet’s dental health and give you tips to keep their mouth healthy.
Vets can show you the proper way to brush your pet’s teeth and recommend any products or techniques that can help with your pet’s specific dental issues. Your vet may also choose to schedule regular dental cleanings to prevent problems before they start to get worse!
Pets usually hide their pain, so some pet owners may overlook dental care until symptoms get worse. Stinky breath, rotting teeth, or loss of appetite can mean periodontal disease, or worse, an infection in the heart, known as endocarditis. That’s why it is important to bring your pet to your vet regularly so they could check for early signs of infection and propose a treatment plan.
Here's 6 Tips to Improve Your Pet’s Dental Health you can read to learn more!
- Lumps or bumps
Remember, if you noticed something unusual in your pet, bring them to the vet asap! But it's actually not unusual for lumps and bumps to develop as pets age. However, unusual skin changes can also be an indication of a tumor or cancer. If you observe, feel, or think you’ve imagined a suspicious growth or discolored patch of skin on your pet, be sure to monitor the growth rate, firmness, mobility, color, and any other changes. Your veterinarian will surely have to know all about it. Have your vet check it out immediately too! Point out any new lumps, bumps, or strange moles that have appeared since your last consultation so your vet could determine if a biopsy is needed.
You can check these 5 Expert Guides to Tell Whether Your Pets Have Cancer to learn more!
Vaccinations are one of the best ways to keep your pets healthy as they can be! It never hurts to make sure your fur babies are up-to-date on all their vaccinations and immunizations. Do not overlook vaccines for they will help prevent your pet from contracting illnesses or at least decrease the severity of illnesses if they do get them.
Vaccines depend on your pet’s lifestyle and the area in which you live. Every pet, regardless of lifestyle, age, or location, should receive the core vaccines for rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and canine hepatitis. Additional vaccines for leptospirosis, influenza, Bordetella, Lyme disease, and others should be given if your veterinarian says it’s needed.
Pups should be vaccinated, starting at six to eight weeks of age. Depending on the specific vaccine, boosters should be given every three to four weeks for a total of at least three.
Kittens should receive their first set of vaccinations at nine weeks old and then receive the second set to boost their immune system at three months old. After this, kittens and cats usually need 'booster' vaccinations every twelve months.
Rabies vaccine can be given starting at 12 weeks of age. After that, some vaccinations may be given yearly or every three years or longer. This is why it is crucial to discuss vaccinations with your vet to determine your pet’s best schedule of shots.
- Blood Test
Blood tests screen is essential for a variety of issues such as kidney and liver disease, diabetes, cancer, and a variety of other issues that can be treated if diagnosed early. Regular blood tests will also give your veterinarian a record to compare against over time. Though it is not necessarily needed for every consultation. Your vet will only order blood tests after assessing a variety of factors, including how old the pet is and if they have any underlying issues so make sure to ask this to your vet too incase your pet needs it.
A huge mistake every pet owners make is to give human medications before consulting the vet! For example, a drug as benign as Tylenol can kill cats. Ibuprofen is dangerous to give to dogs. So please always ask first or you might regret it later!
- How to treat my pet with a certain medication
Your vet should teach you how to administer every prescribed medication to your pet. Not every pet will blindly eat whatever you put in front of its nose. Some even resist it to the point of hurting pet owners! Getting medication for your pet is important for your pet’s wellness or illness treatment plan, and I’m sure your vet will be happy to demonstrate and teach you on how to give it your pet at home.
6. How often should I bring my pet to the vet?
In general, every pet should undergo an exam and preventative vaccines at least once or twice a year. As your pet ages, the frequency of visits will also increase so don’t be surprised if your vet asks that you come in every six months. If your pet has a disease that requires special attention, like diabetes, exams are recommended as frequently as every 1-2 months. But it is important to remember that every pet is unique, and each stage of life is different plus their environment differs as well. Your veterinarian will best guide you on when to schedule that next exam.
But don’t worry! You can actually save money with the help of your veterinarian for they can tweak your pet’s care to prevent health problems from occurring, or catch and treat an illness early before it affects your pet. Your veterinarian needs to make sure your pet isn’t carrying anything like parasites or any medical conditions which means you’ll need to take him in for a heartworm test or any needed consultations regularly. Vets also like to monitor oral health and may recommend blood work to check for hidden health issues. You’re also welcome to visit the vet as often as you see fit. That’s actually a good idea and gets your pet used to the clinic’s environment!
7. What does my pet’s bill mean?
Pet owners trust veterinarians to guide them on what’s needed to keep their pets happy and healthy. But unfortunately, they have to charge for that and recommendations aren’t always affordable. Veterinarians undergo extensive training and have years of experience after all to give your pet the best health care possible.
If you ask nicely your veterinarian will explain why the consultation and routine procedures done cost what they do. The best veterinary clinics are upfront about the costs of treatments they recommend as well as the associated benefits and risks. If the fees are too much for you, tell your vet about your budget so you can agree on what affordable but effective treatment plan will be done that won’t compromise your pet’s well-being. It may seem like a lot of money, but these procedures and consultations will keep your pet healthy and happy for many years to come!
Do your best to also build a good relationship with your vet as switching between veterinary clinics due to issues will make your fur babies scared and nervous about visiting the vet because they don’t get a chance to get comfortable with one.
Building trust and consistency with your vet is very important to ensure your pet receives the best care possible without being stressed and in a comfortable way! Use every knowledge your vet will pass on to you for your pet’s advantage. We hope this list of questions will give you a start on what to ask your vet every consultation and to build a great relationship with your vet. If your vet doesn’t ask these questions, you should ask these to them instead. A close, open, and informative bond with your veterinary healthcare team is the best way to ensure your pet receives the finest care possible. To ensure you don’t forget to ask anything, jot these down including any strange changes you’ll notice in your pet’s body, routine, and behavior!
To prepare your pet for the consultation, avoid using retractable leashes for your visit, and bring a toy or snack that you know will keep your dog’s attention. Practice trial runs, come for visits and walk-throughs, and even regular weight checks to allow your fur babies to become familiar and comfortable with the hospital. Get them accustomed to riding in the car, and don’t feed them right before the trip to avoid motion sickness and for the vet to monitor your pet at the best way possible!
Share this with your fellow pet owner friends who might need this information right now! Feel free to leave a comment down below about your vet experiences to help other pet owners, we would also love to read them!
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Rose Hazel San Diego
Hazel loves pets & she has owned cats, dogs, & even hedgehogs! She also fosters cats & dogs in need around her area. With her social media & copywriting background, she gladly shares her knowledge of pets through these articles!
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