Tips for Teamwork With Your Vet
In February’s post I gave some suggestions for finding the right veterinarian for your pet. Thanks so much to those of you who emailed to tell me the information was helpful. For those who may not know we close comments on the blog simply because there are so many computer generated bogus comments. I always welcome real comments from readers and our family of customers. Please email Service@JoyPetProducts.com and put JPP Blog Comment in the subject line. Whether you have ideas for the next post, comments or suggestions we’re always happy to hear from you.
I promised to follow up with some tips on how to effectively work with the vet you’ve chosen for your pets. I view the medical care of our pets as team work between the pet’s guardian and the vet and medical staff. That’s not to say that pet guardians need to be a medical expert. I think it’s important, however, to be reasonably well prepared for each visit and aware of your pet’s norms. Most of the ideas here are common sense and preparation.
I’ve been told several times by different doctors that I give them a lot of good information. At first I admit I didn’t really fully understand what they meant or what I might be doing differently. Now I realize that a big part of being helpful is being able to quantify and be specific with the information we give the vet about our pets. For example, there’s a big difference between saying your dog didn’t seem to feel well and saying he was coughing a lot while excited when the doorbell rang but the coughing stopped as soon as calmed down and rested for a bit. Specific symptoms, when they started, how long they lasted and the severity on a scale of one to ten are all helpful tools. I t’s also helpful to establish what was going on when the symptoms started. Did you just have a lawn treatment that may have caused the coughing? Was your pet groomed or boarded recently? And if it’s a behavioral situation this is especially helpful too. It canl help determine what may have triggered the problem or new behavior.
If your vet makes recommendations or prescribes a medicine, be diligent about jotting down what the effects are. Don’t just say improved or got worse..be specific…Maybe by Wednesday after two full days on the medicine he is coughing about 60% less. Also ask when you should notice an improvement. You’ll have accurate information that you can refer to. It’s very possible the same animal will have similar issues again. Knowing what worked and what didn’t is very helpful. It’s also a great way to ensure the accuracy of your pet’s medical records. People make mistakes and knowing what medicines don’t work with your pet or worse that your pet has a problem with, rather than relying on your vet’s records can be crucial information. There’s always the unfortunate possibility you’ll have an emergency and need to go somewhere other than to your regular vet. Having notes or a file ready with key information such as your pet’s age, allergies, foods, medications etc. can be a life saver – literally. If you add the information piece by piece as things happen it’s very simple and not time consuming.
If your pet does have a health problem that requires ongoing care it’s important to be able to work as a team with your veterinarian. Hopefully you have a good foundation and have asked the important questions before choosing a veterinarian. If not, see February 2011′s post for suggestions. When a health problem arises you’ll probably have questions and you may need to be in regular contact with your veterinarian.
Some questions to consider:
- Ask if there is suggested reading about the diagnosis so you can better understand the problem and possible solutions.
- Ask if there are different options for care.
- Ask if you can talk further once you’ve had time to read and digest the situation.
- Ask what you need to look for. Sometimes there are things that might not be obvious that your vet will want to know about.
- Has your vet handled similar cases and what was the outcome?
There’s a line between being diligent and being unreasonable. You need to have a plan for an emergency of course, but when it’s a non urgent question either save it for the next visit or use your vet’s preferred method of communication. If you are leaving a message be clear about what the situation is and be clear about what you want from the doctor. And don’t forget to leave a number where you can be reached. Often small practice veterinarians check voice mail when they are out of the office and may not have access to your records. Do you think your pet is having a problem with the medication and it needs to be changed? Are you just calling with an update and don’t require a return call? Do you think something isn’t healing properly and need to be seen? The doctor has other patients and usually will prioritize by the seriousness of the situation.
When something is wrong however if the doctor is not responding you do need to get your pet attention. Things can sometimes go from bad to worse too quickly and while you want to be respectful you can’t wait for a doctor who isn’t being responsive to your needs. Generally veterinary practices refer clients to a hospital or other facility when they are not available. Knowing what other options you have and having your pet’s important information will allow you to handle emergencies or situations much more easily when your regular vet isn’t available. Having emergency numbers and locations of facilities readily available before you have a crisis will save time and stress in an emergency as well. One helpful website is www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control There’s a great deal of information on the site other than poison information too. There is a phone number to call if you suspect your animal has been poisoned. The number is toll free -888.426.4435 but a fee may apply.
Emotions are part of the equation when something is wrong with an animal you love. It’s natural to be very upset when there’s a problem. As responsible guardians we need to stay focused on what we can do to help and not make the situation worse. Easier said than done of course when there’s a crisis, but try to remember that you can’t waste time in an emergency and giving the right information or acting appropriately and quickly can help your animal. It’s helpful to have someone who can come with you in an emergency, even if they are just there for moral support. And again, having everything documented before hand can help you through emergencies as it can be hard to remember everything and give accurate information when you are overwhelmed.
I hope that information is helpful. Please email if you have other suggestions I can share in the next post.
All the best,
Patti & Desi