To get the most out of your visit with your veterinarian, ask questions. The answers and advice you receive will help you to provide the best possible care for your kitty.
Here is a list of questions to consider:
1. How much does he or she weigh? Find out what your kitten or cat weights and make note of it. Keep track of the weight and notice any sudden change.
2. What is his or her body condition score? What this really means is… if your cat is too fat or too thin. The body condition score looks at the amount of fat on a cat’s frame relative to their overall size. If your cat is too fat, ask your vet what you can do to help them lose weight. They may recommend that you cut back on portions or table scraps, change their diet, or increase their activity by offering more playtime. If the cat is too thin, ask for recommendations to address this issue.
3. What should they be eating? Ask your veterinarian their opinion on the best food to feed your cat. Most vets recommend a good quality premium pet food that offers good quality control and has AAFCO approval formulated to meet the needs of your cats life stage. For example, if you have a kitten, a common recommendation would be AAFCO approved food to meet the growing demands of kittens. Depending on your cat’s sex, age, weight, and overall health, your veterinarian may recommend a formula for less active cats or a prescription formula that may be beneficial in the presence of an underlying medical condition.
4. Was the physical examination normal? This may be the most important part of your pet’s visit to the veterinarian. The examination can help to identify problems early when conditions may be more treatable. Ask if your cat’s heart and lungs sounded normal, if their abdomen felt normal on examination, and if they appear healthy overall. If not, what is wrong? What can be done?
5. How do his or her teeth and nails look? Should you be brushing their teeth? Trimming their nails? If so, will they show you how if you don’t already know?
6. Is he or she getting the vaccines they need? Make sure your pet is getting what they need, but not more than what they need. Depending on where your cat lives, their age, exposure to other cats, and if they go outside, their vaccine recommendations may vary. There are some vaccinations they may not need or they may be at risk for feline aids virus and some other diseases that may be prevented with a vaccine. Rabies is required by law.
7. Does he or she need heartworm prevention? Cats that live in warm climates are at risk for heartworm disease. This can be prevented by a monthly medication. Find out what they should take and when they should take it. Some vets recommend a seasonal approach and others a year-round medication.
8. Do they need tick prevention medication? Depending on where your cat lives and their level of risk, they may benefit from tick control medications. Ticks can carry diseases that can cause severe illness.
9. Do they have worms or need a dewormer? A fecal examination can help determine if your pet has gastrointestinal worms. Some pets may be routinely dewormed. Some of the heartworm preventative medications also treat gastrointestinal parasites.
10. Should they have any “routine testing”? Are there any routine tests that should be done to monitor my cat’s health for their age? Cats age quickly and are considered “senior” during the last 25% of their life. Many veterinarians recommend routine blood work to assess your pet’s organ function on a periodic basis, especially in senior pets.
11. How do you handle emergencies? It is always easiest to ask this when you don’t have an emergency. Find out what number to call, if they handle their own emergencies and if not, find out the number and location for their emergency clinic of choice. Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do, you will be glad you have it.
12. What is the best way to communicate? Do they accept and answer emails? Can you renew prescriptions or order food in this manner? If so, which address should you use? Or is all their business handled over the phone?
13. How about microchips? Should your pet have a microchip and if they already have one, can they test it to make sure it is working properly? Microchips are small devices implanted under a cat’s skin that helps to identify them if they are lost. Make sure you document the number and the microchip company. Ask if the chip is registered to their practice or to you. It is far better to have it registered directly to you.
14. Is there anything you can do to make your pet more comfortable? This applies most often to senior pets. Does your veterinarian think your pet is in pain? If so, is there something they recommend?
15. Is your pet at risk? Is your pet at risk for anything that you can prevent or any disease that you should know about? For example, unspayed cats are at risk for life-threatening uterine infections that can be prevented by spaying. Ask what problems your pet might be at risk for and symptoms you should watch for.
Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your Visit
To get the most out of your vet visits, make sure you have information about your pet to help the vet better understand your pet and your pet’s problems. If you are visiting your veterinarian for any type of ailment, make sure you know details about the ailment. Your veterinarian will want to know when the problem started, how often it is a problem, and if there are associated symptoms. For example, if your pet is vomiting, they will want to know when it started, how frequent it occurs, if there is blood or other abnormalities, and associated symptoms such as if there is diarrhea, if your pet is not eating, or if your pet is acting lethargic.
Finally, make sure you are honest. Don’t underestimate what table scraps you feed or anything else about how you care for your pet. If you missed a dose of medication, don’t be embarrassed, just tell them the facts. Your veterinarian is there to help you to provide the best care for your pet and they can only do that if they know the facts.