Regular veterinary check-ups are the cornerstone of dog health. It is recommended that dog parents bring them to the vet twice a year, and this is for a good reason.  Unfortunately, in most cases, when we notice a disease in a dog it is because he or she is very sick. This happens because, in the wild, animals cannot afford to show signs of disease—those who show signs of disease are less likely to survive. Therefore, the only way of detecting disease in dogs early is by doing regular check-ups.  Follow these tips to get the most of your next visit to the vet.

Preparation Before Your Visit to the Vet

  • Have your dog’s medical record on hand. Bringing your dog’s medical record will allow the veterinarian to know all the previous health conditions of your dog, his/her vaccination and deworming schedule, if your dog has any allergies, and if he/she is taking any medications. This is especially important if you are visiting a new vet. If this is going to be your puppy’s first visit to the vet, then make sure that you receive a copy of his/her new medical record and keep it in a safe place.
  • Create a list of questions. Having a list of questions ready is essential. You may think that you will remember all your questions, but then, once you are there, chances are that you will forget all those questions! Write them down and bring the list with you the day of your visit.
  • Collect a fecal sample. Bringing a fresh fecal sample will be tremendously helpful for your vet and it can save you a second trip to the vet clinic. You don’t need to bring a large amount of feces, a small amount is enough. Make sure that you collect the feces that same day or the day before. The examination of feces can provide lots of information about your dog’s health, and chances are that your vet is going to ask for a sample anyways.

During Your Visit to the Vet

  • Explain your dog’s problem clearly. Remember that dogs cannot tell their doctors how they are feeling—you need to speak for them. Explain your dog’s behavior and any concerns that you may have, clearly and with as much detail as possible.
  • Request an Estimate. In the case that your dog needs a treatment, lab work, medications or procedure, you should ask for an estimate of the costs. This is going to be helpful for you and for your vet. Don’t be afraid of discussing your budget with your vet. Most vets are more than willing to work within a budget, but they need to know what is that budget. At the end, we all want to do what is best for our beloved four-legged friends.
  • Ask for a dental check. Most vets will check your dog’s mouth during a routine physical examination, but if not, you should ask for a dental examination. Ask your vet about your dog’s dental health. You may want to ask: Does he/she need a professional cleaning? How should I take care of my dog’s teeth at home?
  • Ask About Your Pet’s Weight. A healthy weight is as important for dogs as it is for us. Scientific data shows that overweight dogs live less than those who are at a heathy weight. Ask your vet if your dog is in a healthy weight, if not, ask how you should modify your dog’s feeding and live style to help him/her reach a healthy weight.
  • Ask some more. They key to getting the most of your visit to the vet is asking as many questions as necessary. If there is anything that you do not understand during your consultation, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

After Your Visit to the Vet

  • Follow your vet’s the instructions. If your dog needs to receive any kind of treatment at home, ask your vet to give you all the instructions in writing and follow them strictly.
  • Call if you need further clarifications. When in doubt about any of the instructions that you received, call your vet’s office and ask for clarification.
  • Keep your dog’s record in safe place and have it on hand for your next visit to the vet.