Getting the Most out of your Vet Visits
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Getting the Most out of your Vet Visits

Health & Safety

Trips to the vet are a fact of life for pet owners. Whether you only go annually for vaccine boosters or are in and out every few weeks, ensuring your pet stays healthy is a top priority. However, veterinary care can be very expensive and visiting the vet can be stressful for you and your pet. Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimise the negatives and get better results for your time and money. This article offers suggestions to help you get the most out of your vet visits without compromising on the quality of your pet's care. Tip #1:Take your pet for a health check at least once a year (twice a year if they seniors). The old cliché "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is especially true in the veterinary world - preventative treatments tend to be less invasive, cheaper, and easier to manage than curative measures. Building up a medical history for your pet ensures there is a record of what's "normal" for him or her, making it easier for the vet to spot something amiss as the years go on. When your pet hits middle-age, you may also consider having an annual blood test performed in order to make sure that there is no latent organ damage developing. Unfortunately, pets may not show symptoms of disease until it has already progressed into a serious problem. Blood testing can help you catch the problems early, and slow the onset of disease with minimal veterinary intervention. Tip #2:The vet will need to know the full story behind your pet's health before treatment is provided. Just as doctors must examine you before prescribing medication, the vet can only write scripts for animals in his or her care. Be prepared when you go to see a new vet for the first time: you needn't carry around your pet's entire medical history - rather, just make sure you have your former or regular vet's contact information. If possible, phone the new surgery in advance so they will have a chance to establish necessary information about your pet before you arrive. This can be especially useful if you are on holiday or have recently relocated; some vets may be happy to prescribe wormers or flea treatments without charging a full consultation fee, provided you can prove your pet has had a recent health check. If your pet has developed an illness or potentially urgent medical complication, try to take note of all the symptoms, including when they began and whether they have worsened. Tip #3:Get trustworthy, easy-to-understand veterinary advice at a low price or even for free: make an appointment to see a veterinary nurse! You may not know it, but registered or qualified veterinary nurses have gone through years of strictly regulated education and training, which they are required to top up annually through CPD programmes. They can offer you an abundance of cutting-edge information on common problems, potentially saving you time and money versus seeing a vet. Many practices openly encourage clients to attend nurse clinics, although at others you will need to be savvy and ask. If you seek advice on any of the below topics, try speaking to a nurse before you see the vet:

  • Weight management
  • Dental care
  • Parasite control
  • Young animal care
  • Geriatric care
  • Nail clipping
  • Anal gland expression

Nurses can help you decide the pros and cons of certain treatments, especially if you are having a hard time deciding, for example, which flea & tick treatment is right for you, or which diet is most appropriate for your pet. Note that veterinary nurses cannot prescribe drugs, make a diagnosis, or perform acts of veterinary surgery. A nurse may refer you to the vet if your pet requires medication.Tip #4:You have the right ask questions and make choices - take an active role in your pet's care. If your pet is diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness, don't be afraid to ask questions. There is often more than one treatment available for any given condition, and you should feel free to work with your vet to try and find one that suits your expectations and budget. When thinking of questions to ask, consider your pet's quality of life. Which treatments offer the best opportunity to maintain normalcy? Also consider your pet's reactions to medication. Does he or she hate tablets? Would you be able to administer a drug multiple times per day, every day if necessary? Your vet may have literature about your pet's condition, which will provide an overview of any essential information and may give you fodder for discussion.Know, too, that you are entitled to receive a second opinion and can request a referral. If there is something you are unhappy about concerning your pet's treatment and you wish to see another vet, let your current vet know. It is important that both your first and second practice can communicate with each other in order to avoid conflicting treatments. Tip #5:Provide great care at home. How does this relate to your vet visits? Simply put, your pet's daily care determines the overall quality of his or her life. Overweight, under-stimulated pets fed a low-quality diet are more likely to require veterinary attention and medication to supplement the gaps in their care. Investing a small amount of time and money into your pet's day-to-day needs is the best way to promote a healthy, rewarding lifestyle with lower vet bills. If you can't take your dog for long walks, invest in some toys to help keep him active; if your cat doesn't tolerate tooth cleaning, try adding a chlorhexidine supplement to his water. Carefully managing your pet's daily care will also make it easier for you to discuss any changes in behaviour or overall health with your vet - you'll be more likely to notice problems as soon as they occur.

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