What to Expect When Visiting a Veterinarian
So, you finally have your new puppy. Many forces have been pushing you towards this fate. There was the desire budding in your soul since you were just a child, the saucer-like pleading eyes of this “unwanted” puppy at the animal shelter, and the persistent, begging voices of your children.
Congratulations! But have you investigated veterinary care options for your new loved one?
Investigating veterinary options should be done before acquiring a new pet. Use common sense. I suggest looking for the same qualities that would attract you to a good human doctor. In other words, a veterinarian who appears compassionate and has good communication skills is most desirable.
Vetting a Vet
Don’t be afraid to call a veterinary hospital and inquire about a visit. This will allow you to check the quality of the veterinary facility as well as meet the staff. See if the veterinarian has time to say “hello.” Is this the type of clinic where you would want your new friend to have surgery? Do the veterinarian and staff appear able and willing to answer all your future questions?
If you would rather stay anonymous, check out the clinic’s website and Facebook page. You may be able to learn a lot about the policies of the clinic, take a virtual tour of the facility, or learn about the staff and veterinarian.
While you’re examining your options, don’t just shop for the best price. For example, not all routine surgeries are done in a similar fashion. When checking into surgical procedures, I suggest asking the veterinary staff whether there are mandatory included items such as take home pain medications, IV fluids and warming devices for the patients.
The Check Up
Now that you’ve done your homework, you are ready for your first veterinary visit. During the visit, the veterinarian or staff should educate you on the vaccines and parasite preventatives that are recommended for their patients. Do not forget: you have an important voice in regards to the veterinary care for your pet. Also be aware that your pet’s lifestyle and age may affect the recommendations.
Vaccinations and parasite control are especially important for puppies and kittens. Frequently I have clients who believe their pet has had all the shots and has been adequately dewormed. Unfortunately, sometimes they have been misled, which often leads to the puppy or kitten being inadequately protected from potentially life-threatening disease. Please discuss vaccination and parasite control as soon as possible with a veterinarian.
The physical exam may be the most important procedure during your pet’s visit. Some of the items your veterinarian will be evaluating include various potentially acquired and congenital abnormalities, age confirmation and an external parasite screen (fleas, ticks, ear mites).
Your new veterinarian may suggest a variety of tests. These tests are not only for your pet’s health, but for you and your family’s health.
We all know about the dreaded stool, also known as the BM, the “big job,” or more simply, the fecal sample. I believe this test should be done on any new pet and again annually. Even after being dewormed, there are other parasites that should be checked for in a sample. This includes protozoan parasites, such as Giardia, that can be passed on to people.
If the dog is old enough, there should be a check for heartworm and possibly Lyme disease exposure. All new cats and kittens should be checked for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses. If there are ear or skin abnormalities, samples may be taken to examine under a microscope.
Your veterinarian should also discuss spaying and neutering. Most veterinarians suggest these procedures before 6 months of age. Do not forget to discuss what is included with these procedures.
Again, it’s ideal to locate a veterinarian that has a facility and personality that meets your standards before you acquire a pet. This will help to ensure many healthy years of unconditional love for you and your family.