Monday, July 15, 2013

A VISIT TO THE VET: ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS TO GET FIDO, AND YOU, THE BEST VISIT POSSIBLE (AND YOUR MONEY'S WORTH!)

    You have been going to "Dr. So & So" for X amount of years.  His/her office sends you the annual "vaccination card" saying Fido needs this & that, so you bring your dog in and they give him all the shots for a good deal. You see Dr. So & So from time to time when Fido has a problem.  He/she says it's such and such, usually gives you some pills, sometimes runs tests (which can be incredibly costly) and sends you on your way after your bank account takes a big dip.

 Sound familiar?

This blog is dedicated to making your future vet visits easier and possibly less expensive by providing you with certain questions to ask your Vet which can help determine exactly what Fido needs or doesn't need at that specific time. We will also touch upon how your vet can, and should, help you in not just treating the needs of that specific visit, but also provide a "maintenance plan" to keep Fido in tip top shape!

Each time we bring one of our pups to the vet, we always go in with a notepad compiled with questions regarding what we are seeing her for, and any other questions we may have about our pets health and well-being.  She is always more than happy to answer all of our questions and share with us the latest findings/discoveries related to the topics we are discussing. Any vet (and doctor for that matter) should be pleased with your questions and happy to address them.  If you find your vet does not  show interest in your questions, don't be afraid to look elsewhere.

1.  Questions regarding why you are there.  Compile a list complete with your pup's symptoms, when it started and your own ideas about why it may have started.  When your vet provides their diagnosis, and "prescribes" the necessary meds and/or tests, don't be shy to ask why they feel this is needed.  Many times meds and tests are needed, but some vets can be a bit too "overly and unnecessarily cautious", and you could end up with tests and meds that not only are costly but uncomfortable for your pup.  If meds are needed, find out the side effects that may effect your pup and possible food/treats that could interfere with the meds.

2. Vaccines.  Maybe you're getting a little bored with this blog.  You think "Yeah yeah yeah, ok I'll ask some questions next time.  Can I watch "Sharknado" now????"   If there is only ONE THING you come away from this blog with it's the info we're about to share with you about vaccines because the following information could not only extend your dog's life, but possibly even SAVE your dog's life. And no, we are not exaggerating.  The next time you get one of those cards saying "it's time for Fido's annual round of shots" please throw it away and discuss the following information with your vet:

TITER TESTING:  This is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your dog!! A Titer Test is a blood test that finds out if your dog has enough immunity against specific core diseases (parvo, distemper and hepatitis) to possibly eliminate the need to be vaccinated for them.  It is more expensive than several vaccine shots, but think of it as a kind of "health insurance." If your  dog is vaccinated for something he/she has already built  up an immunity to, it could easily cause many problems that will be much more costly than a titer test.

Rabies vaccination:  It IS required by law. This vaccine is also the toughest on a dog's system. The USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics reports that "the rabies vaccine is responsible for more adverse reactions than other vaccines. Do not give this vaccine during surgery or with other drugs.  Give THREE OR MORE WEEKS APART from other vaccine boosters."  It is required by law every THREE YEARS.  

BORDATELLA:  Many vets are vehement your dog must have this if they are socialized around other dogs.  Bordatella protects against kennel cough.  Let's be honest here folks; Kennel Cough is simply the "common cold for dogs."  Now we've all had those miserable colds, but it's part of life. And as dog's get Kennel Cough  it builds up antibodies, allowing them to be more immune to kennel cough in the future. The only dogs who should have this are those highly susceptible to pneumonia and/or lung ailments.  In that case Bordatella vaccine will prevent complications with the kennel cough. But if Fido is healthy, please at least think twice, and have your vet give a very convincing argument before those drops go up their nose. 

BORRELIA BURGDORFERI (LYME DISEASE), AND LEPTOSPIROSIS:  These are "non-core" diseases that we do not need to bore you with details about. Bottom line:  these are advised only to dogs living in an area or have a lifestyle that puts them at a high risk of contracting them.  Look them up and have your  vet explain them to you.

Congratulations you survived the vaccine section of the blog!!  No onto much more simple topics and questions....


3.  How does my dog look?  Have your vet discuss how the ears, eyes and teeth look, and if your dog is at a healthy weight.

4.  Emergency Care:  Have your vet recommend the closest, best 24 hour emergency care facility and keep that info in a handy location (on the fridge, in your phone or your wallet...)

5.  Breed - Specific issues.  Each breed is predisposed to certain problems and it's important you and your vet are aware of what behavioral issues and health issues your pup is more susceptible to based upon his/her breed.

6. Flea/Tick/Heartworm Program:  Many vets insist that pets stay on a year round program for "proper treatment" of these parasites.  But is that REALLY necessary?????  Discuss with your vet if this could be a "seasonal" program instead,  when fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are more prevalent.  All these parasites can cause harm, but remember it is a pesticide you are either administering topically or having your dog ingest. It's worth your time to see if a full-time program is necessary.

7. The "annual check up".  This is our favorite time to go to the vet.  Even if there's nothing wrong with your dog, you should get the following done to ensure everything is healthy and working properly:  blood test, stool sample and urinalysis. This costs money but consider it "preventative health care"

8.  Pet Health Insurance.  Don't leave home without it!  Ask your vet which kind they recommend.  The right insurance can end up saving you thousands of dollars, especially if your pup ends up with a condition or disease that requires extensive tests, treatment and medication.

  Many dogs are cautious and even terrified to walk into a vet's office. Who can blame them?  It's no fun being poked and prodded by someone you may rarely see, and it's especially no fun to have needles stuck into them! Spin this visit into a positive experience for your dog. You know what your dog loves.... maybe it's a favorite, horribly obnoxious squeaky toy (speaking from experience!), or maybe it's a delicious liver or chicken treat.  Whatever it is, have it with you  to comfort and reward Fido, and make sure they get tons of praise and belly rubs for braving the visit!

Thanks so much for tuning in to this blog.  It's not as fun and entertaining as some of the other ones but we hope you found it informative and helpful. We of course welcome your questions and comments.








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