One of the most important aspects of a veterinary visit is the history provided to us by the client or pet owner. The history includes just what you might think it should include:
- What is the problem we are addressing today?
- When did this problem start?
- Has this problem ooccurred previously to this episode?
- Was the previous occurrence similar or different to the current symptoms?
- Has the problem been treated previously? Did the treatment work?
- Are there other concurrent medical issues?
- Are there other symptoms, whether they seem to be related to the main concern or not?
- Is the pet on any medications currently (e.g. flea prevention, heartworm prevention, joint supplements, vitamins, etc)?
- What is the pet’s diet? Has it been this way for the last year or more? Recently changed?
This list is not exhaustive and will be different for different complaints. However, the most important aspect of the history is not the questions the veterinarian or the veterinary staff are asking, but the answers the pet owner provides. Unfortunately, we frequently find conflicting statements, sometimes between spouses (surprise!) and sometimes with an individual (the story can sometimes change the longer we converse about it). It is incredibly important that your veterinary team receive as accurate a picture of the historical circumstances as possible, in order to formulate the most efficient and accurate diagnostic and therapeutic plans.
We often find pet owners telling us less than the full truth about a pet’s diet and amount, especially when the owner present at the appointment is not the one responsible for feeding. Or, the pet owner bring the pet in is not the one that saw the pet fall, or limp, or vomit, etc. This puts us at a disadvantage when we have to work with, or make assumptions based on limited or inaccurate information. And yes, be prepared to through your spouse or significant-other under the bus if they’ve been slipping extra treats, table food etc. We really do need to know!
So, before you bring your pet to the veterinarian, whether it is for a problem/illness or for a routine checkup, always make sure you have the straight story:
- Double check the food and amount you feed
- Check with any family members or house mates to make sure you have the full picture of what your pet’s symptoms are and have been
- Double check the medications your pet is taking, and bring a list (not only what your pet is taking, but how much and how often
- Write these things down! Most of us have smartphones or smart devices that we rarely allow out of our site. Use the note app to jot down these basics. It will make your veterinary visit go more smoothly, and be more productive for both you and your pet.
- Along the same train of thought, take video on your smartphone whenever possible, whether it is to show us the characteristics of your pet’s lameness, to document an abnormal behavior, to show what his/her seizures are like, to show the type of cough, or to capture a specific other breathing issue. These bits of information are truly invaluable for your veterinary team.