Monday, July 15, 2013

10 things to do when taking your dog to the vet

Lulu is going to the vet next week (don't tell her, k?).

Nothing's wrong. She's going for her annual check-up. Aside from being a good thing to do to make sure your dog has a clean bill of health, it's also a great time to ask questions and make sure you are doing all you can to ensure your dog is getting what they need.

But you should never go to the vet unprepared. So here are 10 things to do when taking your pet to the vet:

1. Observe your pet for things to talk to the vet about. Sometimes your dog does something that you think, odd -- but then they don't do it again, and you brush it off.

For instance, Lulu has a habit of sometimes shaking her head. This could indicate an ear issue. so it will be something I will talk about with the vet.

Look at other things though -- how are they eating and drinking? How are their bathroom times? How's their energy? If you have to, take notes so you can be as specific as possible. AND ASK QUESTIONS.

2. Make sure you have a good idea of what your pet eats each day. When it comes to things like your pet's weight, or their teeth, a vet will want that info if they sense something's off. That way they can help you adjust if necessarily. That means not just the types of food, but the brands and also measurements if you can.

3. Have any health care paperwork you've gathered over the year with you. Did you go somewhere else to get a vaccine? What flea or medical treatments is your pet getting? It's good to have that with you, because they may need it.

4. Call ahead and see if you need to bring anything with you. Some vets like to have stool samples. If that's the case, it's good to have it ahead of time. Also, it's good to see if your vet is on time, or if they're a little behind, because you don't want to have to be there too long with a nervous pet.

Courtesy of Matthew Wright via Flickr Commons
5. While on that subject, bring what you can to keep your pet comfortable. You know your pet better than anyone. If your pet is uncomfortable at the vet, they won't like to wait to see them either. A stress shirt, a favorite toy, or a blanket might be the thing to make them feel better. Also, be sure to have a leash, a harness, a crate, a muzzle. Your stressful dog will be in a room with other stressful dogs, and there could be problems.

6. When you are in the room with the vet, watch how they work on your dog. A vet usually does a nose to tail exam. You can use those same methods to check your dog on a regular basis. This will help you if there's a problem. Watch how they check for lumps or abnormalities or skin conditions. (This shouldn't replace an actual vet visit)

Courtesy of Brian via Flickr Commons
7. Did I mention ask questions? ASK QUESTIONS! Why does my pet do this, why do they do that? You never know when it could lead to something. The animal can't talk, so the vet has to rely on you.

8. While we're at it, if you have behavioral questions, ask about those too. You vet could have answers on things like separation anxiety or going to the bathroom in the house. Some issues could stem from something health-related. Unless you ask, you never know.

9. Have a serious discussion about vaccines. Vaccines are very important, especially if you have a social dog, or one that is out a lot. So don't say no to them out right. For one thing, many local governments require dogs get a rabies vaccination, so you may not have a choice. For another, the core vaccines, canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies, can protect your pet from serious illness. But you don't necessarily need them all every year. Work with your vet to figure out what you need, and keep a schedule.

Also -- be aware that pets can have reactions to vaccines. Lulu had a reaction to her last rabies shot. If your pet has a reaction to a rabies shot, it could range from a little lethargy to much more serious, debilitating problems.  Here is what the ASPCA says:
"Immunizations mildly stimulate an animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This stimulation can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. Another less common side effect is the development of immune mediated disease following vaccination. 
"Most dogs show no ill effect from vaccination. Vaccine reactions may be minor and short-lived or require immediate care from a veterinarian. Clinical signs include: 
  • Fever    
  • Sluggishness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Facial swelling and/or hives
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain, swelling, redness, scabbing or hair loss around the injection site
  • Lameness
  • Collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
"It is best to schedule your dog’s appointment so that you can monitor him for any side effects following administration of the vaccine."
10. If you need to get medicine, see if you can get it from a regular pharmacy.  Lots of pharmacies sell some pet medications at cheaper prices, like Target. It can help you reduce costs.

And don't forget to thank them.

Finally, I found this great article on Reader's Digest  50 Things Vets Won't Tell You


  1. This is a great list for taking a child to the pediatrician, too.

  2. Great post Christie...All important things to remember

  3. That's an excellent list :) Usually, the vet pharmacy is not that much more expensive but on some things it is. If you ever need a medicine called Keflex, it's way cheaper to get it from a pharmacy!

  4. Even cheaper here in Florida is Publix Supermarkets for antibiotics. They are still giving them out for free! Great post!

  5. great post and my favorite is "Don't forget to thank them" I think there are many people out there who tend to take what their vets do for granted.
    Barks and licks and love,

  6. Being the dog I would say you missed the boat...turn around and don't go to the vet! I am always scared when I am there but Mom says all your points are great and things that she does which sometimes makes our visit even longer which I dislike but she says it must be done!

  7. I wrote a many part review on the top 50 secrets your vet won't tell you..find it at, see tags for readers digest..i divulge all the secrets a vet knows on these top 50..

    Oh, and check out my beagle! Jekyll..he makes many guest appearances.

  8. Great post! I swear every time I go I forget to ask them something. Twiggy and Onyx have mixed feelings about being there and I do find Twiggy's anxiety is distracting from what I think I'm going to accomplish. I need to bring a checklist! :) ~ Chloe

  9. Very nice and interesting post, i like your advices. Anyway i`m lucky that my beagle, Soso is healthy and i`m going to the vet only 2 times per year.


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