When you add a dog to your family, one of the most important relationships you should develop is with a veterinarian. The first exam, recommended tests and vaccinations provide an important foundation for the future when your pet has subsequent wellness exams or becomes ill.
However, a visit to the veterinarian is not always a fun experience for your dog. For some dogs, the strange smells and sounds can cause a lot of anxiety not unlike people having to go to the dentist. Here are five things to do to help you make the most out of every vet visit.
Plan for costs
Before deciding to add a new dog to your family, familiarize yourself with canine health care costs, and create a plan for how to most effectively meet those costs. Wellness care, illness care, dental care and emergency care can become expensive.
Invest in pet insurance or start a separate savings account for pet medical care to minimize the mental anguish of having to make decisions based on costs. Keep in mind that regular health screenings, vaccinations and dental care are usually less expensive than waiting until health problems become serious.
Check if there are any fee-free certified staff at animal hospitals in your area.
Find the right vet
First, find the right veterinarian for your expectations. You should feel comfortable with a vet and their staff, and make sure they’re meeting your needs and those of your dog. Are they interested in listening to and answering your questions? Are they willing to research or, if needed, refer you to a specialist for further care?
Having a veterinarian close by is ideal not only for regular issues but especially if your pet becomes ill or has an emergency. Ask about after-hours emergency care — many veterinarians may refer you to an emergency clinic or charge an additional fee for emergency appointments.
You should make a vet appointment for your dog within the first week or two of adopting. Bring your adoption papers from the shelter or paperwork from your breeder to help your veterinarian get to know your pet’s medical history and which vaccines they may need.
Tell the vet what medications or supplements your pet is on, how often they take them and what food you’re feeding them.
Arrive on time
It’s best to arrive a few minutes early to your vet appointment so that you can complete necessary paperwork if your vet’s office hasn’t directed you to fill it out online. Many veterinarians are no longer able to accommodate late appointments or may have to limit the time they spend with your dog if you arrive late. Plus, the less rushed you are, the less stress your dog will feel.
Effective communication with your veterinary team is a two-way street. Prior to your appointment, write down concerns and questions for your veterinarian. Make notes on the responses so you leave with accurate information. If you are unclear on something your veterinarian says, ask for further explanation. It’s not unreasonable to ask about reasons for and costs of medications and tests. The vet may also be able to give you other treatment options if cost is a concern.
Especially on your first vet visit, be prepared to ask about topics related to your pet’s health and well-being, like:
- Dental care
- Health problems
- Parasite protection
- Wellness care
Your veterinarian should be your partner in the care of your pet. Approaching your interactions with that perspective will help your dog live a happier, healthier life.