7 things to do to have the best experience at an animal hospital

Number 1: Have the proper restraint equipment. All dogs should be presented either in a sturdy crate, or wearing a woven leash on a buckle collar or harness. It is impossible to control a pet who is wearing a flexi leash, chain leashes can hurt a person's hand, and leather leashes may snap with pressure. A 1-2" nylon leash with a quality snap (metal end piece) may be purchased from a pet supply retailer for less than $20. Top quality cat carriers may be purchased locally from discount stores for less than $20

If you feel that your dog must be presented wearing a muzzle, please have a pet supply retailer fit the pet with a basket muzzle. This muzzle will allow the pet to pant, but not to bite. Having the pet learn how to wear this accessory while going for walks and rides can means there will be no struggle when it is time to wear a basket muzzle before an exam

Number 2: Fast your pet. Not only may this prevent an urgent car clean up due to motion sickness, but this also can help your pet to cooperate for the exam. As part of a fear free gentle handling policy, your veterinary team may offer snacks to your pet. Treats may be used to coax a nervous pet onto a scale or exam table, and snacks may also distract your pet when getting injections. However, offering yummies is ineffective when your pet is not hungry.

Healthy and sick pets should be presented fasted. Some blood tests and x-rays require fasting. And fasting before sedation or anesthesia is recommended in most cases. Even though you may not be planning on sedation or anesthesia on the day of the visit, it may be more convenient for you to have these procedures done on the spot, if recommended. Also, sometimes sedation or anesthesia is required to help your pet to receive the recommend treatment; forgetting to fast may result in your pet having to be sore for another day when you must return for the pet doctor recommended care

Number 3: Arrive as scheduled. This may take extra planning. I know that when I will be travelling with my pet and we must be there on time, I have to build time into my pre-trip agenda for a surprise game of tag, or a last minute potty stop. Having everything in its place at home helps - a place to hang my leash when not in use, an empty dog kennel in my car, an ample supply of poop bags and dog cookies. I try to have at least one empty poop bag on my leash, and dog cookies in my coat pocket, to try to save time. Being relaxed and not rushed can set a more comfortable tone for your dog, and can free your mind to be attentive to your pet

Number 4: Know your pet's medical history. 'History' is a term that medical professionals say which includes diet, vaccinations, surgeries, medicines, previous exam findings, and preventions used. It may be most convenient to keep this summary of your pet's medical record on your phone. You may be tempted to wing it from memory when you arrive at the doctor's office, or to bring pages and pages of medical records and receipts. However, the most useful information is between these two extremes

The doctor and staff will ask questions that will help to sift through the past to help your pet to benefit the most from the current visit. A typical veterinary medical history questionnaire will look a lot one that you may have completed at your personal physician's office. You will be asked what problems you pet is having, what medicines and parasite control you use, the date of your pet's last vaccines (a copy of the current vaccine certificate is helpful), previous surgeries and dates, and for a copy of your pet's last blood test results

Ideally, the doctor will review your information before the start of the exam. This helps the doctor to make a plan of how to make the best use of the exam room visit. So your careful attention to the questions asked by the doctor's assistant is essential

Number 5: Bring your phone, magazine, or knitting, but please put these things away when conversing with the professional staff. When in the exam room, we will ask you more questions and report exam findings, explain tests and diagnosis, offer treatments and explain side effects. We want you to leave with a thorough understanding of the visit, so your attention is required

However, if you go home and have questions, please call us. We know that we cover a lot of material in a short amount of time, and we want to be sure that we have explained everything properly.

Number 6: Be prepared to pay. In contrast with your personal doctor, your pet's doctor will need to be paid at the end of the visit. A veterinary professional should tell you how much to bring for an exam, and then discuss a treatment plan (estimate) with you before completing services. Charge card is the most popular payment method; Care Credit, a credit card for your pet, may be a helpful alternative. Also, you may elect to have some services or treatments on the day of the exam, while postponing others for a few weeks.

Most pet insurance providers will reimburse you directly for the scheduled amounts, so a veterinarian's role with pet insurance is limited to completing claim forms and emailing paid invoice copies

Number 7: Give medicines and treatments as prescribed at home. Please call the veterinary hospital if there are difficulties giving medicines or if your pet is having side effects. A change in medicine or treatment may be recommended. Also, please call the pet hospital if you feel the pet is not progressing or if new issues are noticed.

Using these ideas helps to keep the pets as comfortable as possible in a pet hospital. I hope you found a suggestion here to help you to live your best life.

Maureen Kubisz, DVM, CVA

Total Pet Hospital LLC

1100 US Highway 9

Howell, NJ 07731

(732) 780-4499

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