Talk to Your Vet

More and more, people are playing an active role in the health care of their animal companions. It is important to work closely with your veterinarian to achieve the best possible level of health care for your pet. An important part of this partnership is clear communication. Ask the right questions and you will receive quality information about prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. This will help make your decisions about the care you desire for your pet. It will also ensure safety, prevent errors, and improve your pet’s health.

For example:

  • Being honest about symptoms can help your veterinarian order the right tests and make the right diagnoses
  • Sharing questions about prescriptions can prevent giving too much or too little medicine to your pet
  • Clear instructions from your veterinarian or the hospital staff after an illness or operation may be the difference between complete recovery or relapse
  • Having a plan of action for followup testing ensures that timely adjustments are made to therapy, and that relapses are prevented or caught early

If you are worried about being too upset to fully understand the issues, take along a family member, friend or caregiver to help you communicate with your veterinarian. Writing down your questions or concerns in advance of your appointment is also very useful to clarify issues and to remember all the symptoms or the course of events. Ask for a written summary of the diagnosis and plan, and options for therapy available for your pet. If you feel that the veterinarian you are seeing with your companion animal is not communicating with you in a clear and understandable manner, don’t be afraid to ask questions to help clarify the situation. If that is not effective, you may seek a second opinion from another veterinarian within the same practice, at another practice, or by asking for a referral to a specialist.

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