A to Z of visiting the vets
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A to Z of visiting the vets

Health & Safety

A trip to the veterinary surgeon can be not only upsetting for your animal, but also a bit of an ordeal for the owner! With this in mind read on to discover an A-Z of hints and tips that could make your trip to the vets less worrying.AppointmentsMost vets have an appointment system, therefore if you cannot keep your appointment please ring and let them know! Not only will they be able to book in another (possibly very sick) animal, many receptionists will remember names!Biting dogsIf you think your dog could be aggressive with the vet or staff please let them know beforehand. You must be honest and not use the normal line, “He's never done that before”. This will save on stress for everyone and bitten hands.Cat BoxesThese can come in all shapes and sizes; however the best ones are rigid plastic. They need to be secure (and not held together with bits of string) as the amount of cats that can escape these boxes might surprise you. Wicker baskets might look good, but they are also great for the cat to anchor their claws into, when trying to extract them from the carrier in the surgery!Dental checksIt might surprise you to know that dogs and cats can start showing dental disease at only three years old. Ask at your surgery about regular dental checks and make sure your vet checked your pet’s teeth at booster time.EuthanasiaIt's a subject none of us like to think about when it concerns our pets, however beforehand it is wise to think about what you would like done with your pet after euthanasia. Home burial, mass cremation or to have ashes back are some of the options available and planning ahead can save some distress.FeesVeterinary costs can always leave a dent in the wallet! Always check upfront with your vet if budget is an issue and your animal needs a lot of treatment. Some practices may do schemes or recommend charities that can help.Going homeIf your animal has had an operation, make sure that you know how to care for them at home afterwards. Nursing staff should give you a discharge sheet with care instructions on it, along with any medication that has been prescribed. If you do not understand any of the instructions then make sure you ask before leaving the surgery.HospitalisationJust like children animals like home comforts. If your pet has to be hospitalised then consider leaving their favourite blanket or toy with the staff at the surgery.InsuranceVets should be impartial when it comes to giving advice about insurance companies. It may sound like a cliché but always read the small print. Some companies do not insure for certain conditions or dietary problems such as specialist food for diabetes.JargonIf you're vets tells you something you do not understand then ask them to explain. Vets sometimes forget that clients do not know terminology and may use long words that can baffle you! Get them to cut the jargon and speak plainly.Kennel coughMost kennels in the UK require a kennel cough vaccine before they will take your dog in for boarding. Make sure your dog is up-to-date with this in good time before your holiday; otherwise you may be in for a shock when your dog is refused.LocumsYou may visit the vets and find yourself in a consultation with a locum, this is not a problem as all will be qualified, however be sure to enquire about follow-up treatment as many locums are only short term staff and need to complete medical history fully.Medical historyIt is up to the client which practice they want to use. Never be afraid of changing vets, all you need to do is provide your new vet with the details of your previous one. Staff can then request medical history to be sent to have a complete record of your animal’s health.Notice boardsThese can be a great source of information with everything from animals requiring homes to pet sitting. If you are looking for behavioural training then ensure the person who is advertising is fully qualified. It seems these days everybody who can teach a dog to sit thinks they are an animal behaviourist.ObesityIs a massive problem in the UK with dogs and cats. The majority of practices will not charge you for weighing your animal. If your pet is on the large side, regular checks and the practice and dietary advice can lengthen their life.PrescriptionsProducts such as flea preparations can be purchased online through various companies. It must be remembered that most of these products need a veterinary prescription. Most vets will make a charge to complete a prescription and it is the general rule of thumb that if a site is selling a prescription medicine and does not ask for a prescription – the product will probably not work and can even be dangerous.Qualifications All vets in the UK will have the initials MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). They will also have the initials of where they trained for example BVM&S means they qualified at the Edinburgh Veterinary University and each UK veterinary University have their own initials. Vets that have specialised will also have other initials such as DSAS(Orth) which means Diploma in Small Animal Surgery – Orthopaedics (a bone specialist).RabiesIf you're taking your animal abroad then you will need a pet passport. Because of the many different regulations according to which country you're visiting, the best advice is to check the DEFRA website - www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/ for the latest information. Also speak to your vet in good time before your planned trip, as in some cases a pet passport can take several months.StarvingIf your pet is having an operation be sure to check the starving requirements beforehand as pets that are fed may have their operation cancelled. This does not include rabbits or guinea pigs!TreatmentJust like humans treatment needs to be completed to ensure that animal has recovered fully. If a vet has taken a temperature and given some injections, then asked for you to bring animal back the following day, please do so, even if the animal seems better. The vet will probably want to retake the temperature and will possibly also give a course of antibiotic tablets. Just as in humans an antibiotic course should be completed and this is not just one injection!UrineIf you have been asked to provide a sample of your dog’s urine then make sure it is placed in a clean container. Samples presented in jam jars that now have not been washed properly may show excess sugar! Try and keep samples cold as well – the fridge is the best place.VisitsAlthough some vets do not like home visits, by law they are required to provide them. Make sure upfront the cost of the visit, the time and any special directions to enable the vets to find you. Vets should provide a 24-hour service, so if your animal is ill overnight, do not hesitate to call them.WildlifeWildlife (especially birds) do not do very well in normal veterinary practices. Wild birds tend to die of shock and animals such as foxes and badgers should not be handled without specialist knowledge. Do not attempt to touch these animals at first ring your local RSPCA.X-raysIf your animal has an x-ray, then you have obviously paid for it. Do not be afraid to ask the vet to view the x-rays and have them explain them to you.Young childrenYoung children have a habit of being very excitable whilst in veterinary practices, but for their safety they need to be controlled whilst in the consultation room. Running around is not only dangerous but can distressed the animal and they may even get bitten. Carers should ensure children are not picking anything up whilst the vets is talking, as this too could be potentially dangerous.ZoonosisSome conditions that animals get are termed zoonotic which means there is a chance of infection to humans. If your animal has been diagnosed with a condition you're unfamiliar with, ask the vet if there is any chance of human infection.

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