Seven Questions Every Pet Owner Should Ask Their Veterinarian
Get the full scope of your pet's health by asking questions related to everything from nutritional needs and weight to exams and behavioral issues.
You take good care of your pet and want to make sure they stay happy and healthy. But when you visit the veterinarian for a routine checkup, you answer all the doctor's questions but hardly ask any of your own. Take advantage of this one-on-one meeting time with the experts and get the answers to any of these important questions you've never asked before.
What exams will you do?
"A veterinarian looks at everything from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail," says Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM, a veterinarian consultant to Best Friends Pet Hotel, which runs boarding, daycare, and grooming centers across the United States. That assessment 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.
Does my pet need a blood test at every checkup?
Not necessarily. A 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.
Is my pet at a healthy weight?
Your vet will base his answer on your pet's breed, size, and stature. It's important to know if you need to change their diet because being overweight could predispose them to such diseases as diabetes and cancer, as well as heart ailments and respiratory problems.
Am I feeding my pet the right foods, in terms of vitamins and nutrition?
Your best bet is to give pets a fresh, whole food diet—in other words, no cans or kibble, says Dr. Gary Richter, DMV, medical director of Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, and founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition, a line of all-natural dog and cat supplements. It's fine if the food comes frozen, either cooked or raw, freeze dried, or dehydrated. "People can also make food at home as long as they work from a recipe designed by a veterinary nutritionist," says Dr. Richter. This is to make sure the animal is getting all the right nutrients. This diet avoids potentially harmful chemical compounds often found in processed foods.
What vaccines does my pet need?
Which vaccines they need is based on factors like age and lifestyle. Vaccines are especially important as your pet gets older and their aging immune system begin to decline.
Should I be concerned by any lumps and bumps?
Point them out to your vet, and let him know if any are new or have changed their shape since your last checkup.
When should I start taking my dog to the dentist?
For the most part, you don't need to unless there's a serious issue like your dog needs a cap or a root canal. "A general practitioner can do routine dental care, such as dental X-rays, extractions, and cleanings," says Dr. Davis. "You should start paying attention to your dog's oral health when they join your family, and brush his teeth at least three times per week, if not every day."