Q:  What can I do to make the most of a trip to the veterinarian?

A: In addition to your pet, there are several items you should take to the veterinarian with you.  Bring any records you have for your pet, especially if this is your first visit to the office.  Also bring along any over the counter medications, dietary supplements, vitamins, and prescription medications you are giving your pet.  These medications and records will help your veterinarian compile a complete medical history.

Have the primary care giver for the pet attend the visit.  It is very difficult to discuss the care and medical management of a pet when the primary care giver is not present.  It is also important to be honest and complete when providing information to your veterinarian.  Your pet’s doctor is not going to judge you.  He does need to know exactly how your pet is being cared for and everything you have tried on your own.  In addition, do be afraid to ask questions.  Many people find it helpful to write down a list of questions for the doctor.

For most visits it is appropriate to supply a fresh fecal sample.  If there are any issues involving changes in drinking or urination behaviors, please do not allow your pet to urinate on the way into the veterinarian’s office.  If a urine sample is required, a full bladder is most helpful.  Similarly, if an ear infection or skin problem is suspected, please do not clean the ears or shampoo the pet before the examination.

Finally, keep an open mind.  Even if you have owned many pets over many years, medical knowledge advances every day.  Recommendations on nutrition, parasite control, vaccination, wellness laboratory testing, and other topics may change from year to year.