Veterinary Doorknob Questions: Before You Leave the Office

Did your veterinarian answer all your questions and addressed your concerns? Are there things you forgot to ask?

Veterinary Doorknob Questions: Before You Leave the Office. Are there things you forgot to ask?

Don’t ever leave the vet’s office unless you’re fully satisfied that you understand what is going on with your dog. You should be walking out either with a diagnosis and a treatment plan or at least a plan of action and further diagnostics.

Don’t leave the vet’s office unless you know what to expect and to do. Don’t forget the doorknob questions.

When I prepare my list beforehand, I make two copies. One for the vet to keep, one for me to make sure nothing gets forgotten. I don’t leave until all my points had been checked off.

Make sure you understood everything your vet told you and that you’re comfortable with the treatment.

Are there more than one treatment option? Did you discuss them all?

If it’s complex, write it down or ask them to write it down so you can research it later. If your dog is sick and needs treatment, it’s up to you to comply properly. For that, you need to understand what to do as well as why to do it. Because if you don’t have faith in the treatment, you’re much less likely to go through with it. And no treatment, however great, will work unless it’s actually administered.

If you’re concerned about your ability to follow through with the plan, let your vet know.

Jasmine’s vet always includes a note to contact him if, for any reason, the client cannot follow through with the treatment plan. He’ll then work to find a plan that will work.

Here is one thing I have ever seen only one vet ever do – provide an outline of expected treatment progress.

Should your dog feel better after the first pill? Should they get better by the next day? Is it going to take a week? A month? What should you expect to happen?

Such an estimate might not always be accurate, but it provides a guideline by which to assess whether the treatment is working or not. If your vet doesn’t give you this, ask for it. Jasmine’s expected progress estimate looked like this:

25 % improvement by day 4
50% by day 6
75% by day 10
100% by day 21

The actual outline, of course, depends on what you’re treating. We received the outline used in the example above after Jasmine’s neck issues started.

Ask not only what the treatment should do, but also what it might do and it shouldn’t – side effects.

This is so important and yet with most vets getting this information is like pulling teeth. What side effects you might run into? And even more importantly, what should you do?

How should you give the medications?

Most of the time, the label will include how many pills and how often you should give. However, some medications, such as NSAIDs, have to be given with food. Others should be given on empty stomach. Yet, this is not always indicated. If you give NSAIDs on an empty stomach, you might run into stomach problems. If you give other medications, such as some antibiotics or thyroid supplement with food, it might significantly lower their effectiveness. Ask what is the best way to give them.

Ask about any contra-indications and interactions.

If you got a prescription for more than one medication, or your dog is already on other treatments, will there be some negative interactions? Can they be given together or should they be given apart? Should one follow a certain amount of time after another (such as if you’re getting stomach protectant with NSAIDs)?

Same applies if you’re giving any supplements. Ask whether any of them could negatively interact with the new meds.

What should you do if you miss a dose?

Find out what you should do if you forget a dose. Also, find out what to do if you did give the medication and your dog happened to throw up shortly after.

When should you come for a follow-up?

I many cases, it is wise to schedule a follow-up appointment. You might be able to tell whether the treatment work or you might not. Your vet might need to get their hands on your dog again to evaluate progress or results. You might need to run a follow-up blood work or other labs.

What information do you expect to come home with from a veterinary visit?

Do you know what information you need to be able to provide to your veterinarian to get the most out of your visit? You are concluding your veterinary visit. Are you leaving with all the information you need? You might think you’re well-prepared. But I can tell you that you will be surprised how much you won’t think of unless you consolidate your notes beforehand.

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Veterinary Visit Checklist: Part 1 Before the Visit

Categories: Dog careDog health advocacyVeterinary visitsVeterinary visitsWellness examsWorking with Veterinarians

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

One Comment
  1. My dog has been my best friend for years, and after we recently moved to a different state she started feeling sick and not eating as much as she used to. It is worrying me a lot, but I am glad I found this article so I can find a new vet to take her to. I think the most important questions posed here was the one about the side effects of any treatment, and why they might appear.

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