How To Get the Most Value Out of Your Veterinary Visit
Dr. Elizabeth Busch, Medical Director at Briarcliff Animal Clinic, explains how to voice concerns with the vet and how to feel more comfortable
By Elizabeth Busch
Today you woke up after a perfect night's sleep, responsibly checked your calendar wanting to non-hurriedly and methodically plan out your day.
Then you remembered that it was time for Captain Kitty-Cat's examination at the veterinarian.
Panic sets in because you totally forgot about the appointment, and you now realize you will have to corral three children and an angry Captain Kitty-Cat to the vet. To top it all off, you're going out of town today and your family treasure has vomited all over your house in the middle of the night.
This often feels like the norm rather than the exception in our intense and full lives.
So how do you make sure you are getting the most out of your time and money at the veterinarian?
The three biggest frustrations that pet owners voice are not getting the chance to discuss all of their concerns, not feeling comfortable with cost, and accepting a therapeutic plan only to find that their pet is still sick.
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your frustration.
Take a moment to organize your thoughts before the veterinarian enters the room.
Many owners do this by making a list for themselves (or more often bringing their partner's list).
Make your veterinarian aware of the list so that together you can make sure every issue is addressed.
The list also makes the veterinarian aware that a comment such as, "Sport sure does pee a lot on a walk," is an actual concern and not just a comment about Sport's normal marking behavior.
Being clear and obvious with your concerns (even if you feel silly asking) will add value to your visit and decrease stress later.
Cost is always a delicate subject that should be discussed with respect between both parties.
Before a veterinary visit, come up with a budget with any family members that are involved in financial decision making. Ask the veterinarian for a Medical Care Plan that will outline the diagnostic and therapeutic services being offered.
Your veterinarian should be clear about the value of each service or test being offered.
Make sure to ask the veterinarian for other options if you feel the Medical Care Plan is outside your price range.
Have the veterinarian outline any situations in which the Medical Care Plan might change and how those changes will be relayed to you, the pet owner.
Lastly, be an advocate for your pet's health.
If Captain Kitty-Cat did not respond to the anti-nausea medication, then your veterinarian needs to know about it. Making and keeping pets healthy is the veterinarian's number one concern; therefore, your pet doesn't have to suffer because the first treatment was not successful.
Following up and doing recheck examinations is how veterinarians learn to be better. In particularly difficult cases, veterinarians often get advice from their coworkers, post the case on a veterinary message board, or consult a specialist by phone.
The only way to tap into this wealth of information is to keep the lines of communication open and develop a trusting and lasting relationship with your veterinarian.
Dr. Elizabeth Busch is the Medical Director at Briarcliff Animal Clinic located at 1850 Johnson Road, Atlanta, GA 30306. She can be reached by email at email@example.com or phone 404-874-6393.