Five Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian
Whether your best friend is visiting the veterinarian for a minor issue or something more serious, there are always a few questions you need to have at the ready for your pet’s doctor.
1. What Is the Diagnosis?
In some cases, your veterinarian can make a diagnosis with a physical exam. However, in other cases, one or more diagnostic tests are needed prior to making a diagnosis (such as bloodwork or X-rays). At every step of the testing process, ask your veterinarian what she is testing for and what information the test results can provide. The point of any diagnostic test is to help your veterinarian make a positive difference for your pet, which leads to the next question.
2. What Is the Treatment Plan and Prognosis?
Veterinarians treat a vast array of illnesses and injuries. Each illness, injury or other health condition requires an individual treatment plan. It’s important to ask about the details of any treatment plan and the prognosis of recovery/rehabilitation before proceeding with any course of action. You should not be afraid of asking detailed questions about any prescribed treatment plan.
3. How Will the Prescribed Treatment Plan Affect My Pet’s Quality of Life?
Modern veterinary medicine has given us wonderful gifts, including the ability to keep our four-legged family members healthy and thriving. Treatments allow us to cure illnesses and manage chronic conditions, and our goal as veterinarians is always to improve your pet’s quality of life. However, it is important that you are mindful of your pet’s overall health and consider any negative side effects of a treatment plan. Conversely, you should ask how the illness might progress if you choose a different treatment or even forego treatment altogether. Then you can be fully informed about all of the risks and benefits of the various available treatment options. Keep in mind that you know your pets best, and your day-to-day interactions with them are the best indicator of their quality of life.
4. How Much Will This Cost?
There is no way to place a value on the companionship our pets provide, but everyone lives on a budget, and some budgets are tighter than others. Therefore, if you only have a certain amount of money to spend when you take your furry friend to the veterinarian, inform them upfront. If your veterinarian presents you with a treatment plan and it is outside of your budget, say so. It may be important to discuss alternative methods of payment, payment plans (which many veterinarians do not accept), credit cards or forms of pet insurance. The more information you can give your veterinarian, the better they can craft an affordable and effective treatment plan for your pet.
5. Is My Pet’s Condition Contagious?
It is always a good idea to ask your veterinarian if your pet’s illness is due to an infectious condition that is contagious to humans or other animals. In most cases, the answer is no, but it can happen. Additionally, there are plenty of diseases in animals (e.g., intestinal worms and parvo virus) that can pass from one animal to another or even one species to another. Therefore, it is always a good idea to make sure that you and the rest of the family will remain healthy during your pet’s recovery.
Listed above are the five most important questions to ask your veterinarian the next time your pet is sick, but remember that you should feel comfortable enough to ask as many questions as you need to understand the situation. When you have more information about your pet’s condition, everybody benefits.
Tyler Foreman, DVM, is a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine who lives in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Foreman practices at Rowlett Veterinary Clinic in Rowlett.