When you visit your doctor, chances are you answer some questions about your pet's health history, current health habits, and any symptoms you might be experiencing. These same types of questions can come up when we take our pets to the veterinarian, but because our dogs and cats can’t talk, we need to be prepared to answer them.
You might think that you or other pet owners can answer any question about your pet off the top of your head. Things like what dog food brands you are feeding them, when was the last you administered a flea and tick medicine, and more. But it doesn’t hurt to refresh your memory and have a list to refer to.
Feel free to print out the attached PDF (find below), write in your answers, and bring it along with you to the vet. After the visit, you could save the form in your pet’s file so that you can refer to it again in the future.
1. When and where did you get your pet?
2. What vaccinations — if any — have your pet received?
3. Has your pet ever had a serious health issue or surgery?
4. Have you ever traveled outside of the area with your pet?
5. Are there any other pets in the house?
6. What veterinary medicines — if any — is your pet taking?
7. What kind of pet food does your pet eat?
8. How much does your pet eat? Have there been any changes to their appetite?
9. How much does your pet drink? Have there been any changes to their thirst?
10. How are your pet’s bathroom habits? Are they having accidents, urinating more than usual, less than usual, is their feces normal, etc.?
11. Has your pet recently gained or lost weight?
12. What kind of exercise does your pet get?
13. Is your pet exhibiting any behavioral problems (such as excessive barking, excessive meowing, chewing, itching/scratching, etc.)?
14. Is your pet displaying any unusual symptoms? Vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, lethargy, exercise intolerance, etc.?
15. Is your pet on any pet medication?
Routine vet visits play an important role in maintaining your pet's overall health. Stay on schedule, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on medications, boarding, and more.
4 Confusing Vet Phrases and How to Decode Them
It can sometimes seem like vets are speaking another language, the medical language they learned in veterinary school. It’s possible your vet won’t always remember to translate their jargon into phrases we laypeople can understand. If you’ve ever been confused or frightened by vet-speak, then you might want to read about these common, confounding phrases your vet could use and what they mean.
When you hear the word “tumor,” do you immediately think of cancer? A tumor simply means that an area is swollen. While it is possible a tumor could be caused by a malignant growth of cells — which does mean cancer — a tumor can also be a benign cyst. A sebaceous cyst or a fatty tumor is usually noncancerous and painless. There are 10 types of tumors in dogs that can be seen on the skin. Tumors that are attached to the skin are often cancerous, whereas tumors capable of being moved with your fingers are more likely to be benign. Your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics for dogs to inhibit the growth or prevent metastasis. Read about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for pets with cancer.
Lyme borreliosis is another name for Lyme disease. It is a disease that’s transmitted via a tick bite. Ticks that cause Lyme disease carry a type of bacteria that belongs to the genus Borrelia. The disease is also named after Lyme, Connecticut, where the first cases of the disease were identified. Click here to read about Lyme disease symptoms, treatment, and prevention. This disease can be treated with Doxycycline for dogs, but you must consult an online vet or your regular vet first.
Complete blood count (CBC)
The most common blood test performed both on pets and people, your veterinary clinic may order a complete blood count — or CBC — to diagnose why a pet is presenting with common symptoms such as pale gums, weakness, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. This will help in determining which pet medications are required.
A complete blood count determines the number and types of blood cells present, specifically red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. White blood cells are critical to immune function. A low white blood cell count in dogs is known as neutropenia. Learn about the five different types of white blood cells.
There are a whole host of abbreviated terms and seemingly mysterious phrases that vets might use to describe various components of your pet’s blood work. Don’t be shy in asking your vet to define what they’re talking about.
Panosteitis is characterized by severe pain in the long leg bones. While it may be a little-understood disease, if your vet tosses around this scary-sounding term, it most likely means your dog has growing pains. Some symptoms associated with panosteitis are depression, lack of appetite, and limping or lameness. Growing pains most commonly afflict mid-to-large-size breeds as the long bones in their legs grow rapidly from months 5 to 18. Growing pains typically resolve on their own, but your vet can help with pain management through canine or feline medicine in the meantime if your dog or cat is needlessly suffering. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Meloxicam for dogs are quite effective in these cases.
Remember that everything that you read on PetMD might not be accurate. Your local vet is your partner in helping your pet stay healthy, and you are your pet’s number one advocate. It is not good for anyone if you don’t understand your pet’s prognosis or treatment plan, so ask plenty of questions until you’re comfortable knowing exactly what’s happening with your pet and what’s expected of you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I prepare for a vet visit?
Preparing for a vet visit can help make the experience less stressful for both you and your pet. Call ahead and schedule an appointment for your pet. This will ensure that the veterinarian is available to see your pet and can give you their undivided attention. If you are visiting a new veterinarian, make sure to bring your pet's medical records. This will give the veterinarian important information about your pet's health history. Make a list of any concerns you have about your pet's health or behavior. This will help you remember to ask the veterinarian all of your questions and ensure that your pet receives proper care. Bringing your pet's favorite toys or treats can help keep them calm and comfortable during the visit. If you are nervous about the visit, consider bringing a friend or family member with you for support. Make sure your pet is properly restrained in a carrier or on a leash to ensure their safety and the safety of others. If the veterinarian has given you any instructions to prepare for the visit, such as fasting your pet, make sure to follow them.
What are the things a vet does?
The vet will perform a physical examination of your pet to check their overall health, including the condition of their skin, fur, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, heart, lungs, abdomen, and limbs. The vet may administer vaccinations to help protect your pet from common diseases. The vet may recommend and administer medications to control and prevent parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms. If your pet is sick or injured, the vet may run diagnostic tests, such as blood work, X-rays, or ultrasounds, to determine the cause of the problem. Once a diagnosis has been made, the vet will recommend a treatment plan, which may include medication, surgery, or other therapies. The vet may perform dental procedures, such as teeth cleaning or extractions, to maintain your pet's oral health. The vet may provide advice and counseling on how to manage and improve your pet's behavior.
Should I bathe my dog before going to the vet?
There's no need to give your dog a bath before going to the vet unless they are particularly dirty or smelly. In fact, bathing your dog too frequently can strip its skin and coat of natural oils, leading to dry skin and other skin problems. However, you should make sure that your dog is clean and groomed enough to make the exam easier for the vet. Make sure your dog's fur is brushed, their ears are clean, and their nails are trimmed. This can help the vet get a clear look at your dog's skin, coat, and overall health during the exam. If your dog has a specific skin condition, such as a rash or skin infection, the vet may request that you don't bathe your dog before the visit, as this could wash away important clues about the condition. In any case, if you're unsure about whether or not to bathe your dog before the visit, you can always call your vet's office and ask for their advice.
What happens at a routine vet exam?
At a routine vet exam, the veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet to check their overall health and wellbeing. The vet will weigh your pet and take their temperature to check for any signs of fever or weight changes. The vet will perform a physical exam of your pet, checking their eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, skin, coat, joints, and overall body condition. The vet will listen to your pet's heart and lungs to check for any abnormalities. The vet will palpate your pet's abdomen to check for any signs of pain, lumps, or abnormal masses. The vet may administer any necessary vaccinations to help protect your pet from common diseases. The vet may check for external parasites, such as fleas and ticks, and recommend medication to prevent or treat them. The vet may recommend blood work to check for any underlying health issues. The vet may examine your pet's teeth and gums to check for any signs of dental disease. The vet may ask you about your pet's behavior and provide advice on how to address any behavior issues. During the exam, the veterinarian may also discuss any concerns you have about your pet's health or behavior and provide recommendations for preventive care or treatments.
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