Top 10 questions for your veterinarian

Being a veterinarian is a tough job. After all, veterinarians have to treat patients who can’t explain where it hurts or follow health instructions more complex than “sit” or “stay.”

That’s why communication between pet owners and veterinarians is so important. Sharing information about how your pet is behaving – including eating, drinking, sleeping, urinating and/or passing stools – could help make a lifesaving diagnosis.

For starters, pet owners need to make sure they have a local veterinarian they can team up with to keep their pets healthy. If you’re looking for a veterinarian, check out www.myveterinarian.com, a new website that provides detailed information about veterinary practices across the country.

Once you have selected a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) suggests this list of the top 10 things you should talk about with your veterinarian during a visit:

10. Ask about parasite prevention and control for heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms that’s appropriate for your region of the country.

9. Ask about proper behavior training and socialization. Many shelters report that improper training and socialization – and the behavioral issues that can come with them – are some of the most common reasons people give up their pets. Your veterinarian can assist in evaluating your animal’s disposition and provide advice and tips on how to appropriately train and socialize your pet.

8. Ask about emergency care. When your pet has acute health issues in the middle of the night, you’ll need to know where to call or go. Ask where you should go when things go wrong, and make sure you figure out how to get there before an emergency – you certainly don’t want to be driving around asking for directions in an emergency situation.

7. Ask about nutrition. What type of food should you feed your pet? What serving size is appropriate? And does their age impact what you should be feeding them?

6. Ask if your pet is overweight and, if it is, how you can get your pet back to a healthy weight. As in humans, weight control for pets is essential for good health.

5. Ask about vaccinations. Vaccinations are essential to your pet’s health and should be tailored to your pet’s lifestyle. A pampered high-rise dweller that never sets foot outside won’t need the same vaccines as a mud hound forever exploring outdoors.

4. If you have a pet older than 7 years of age, ask about senior care. Older pets are more prone to conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid conditions and other problems. Prevention and early detection of problems are key to helping your pet live a longer, healthier life.

3. Ask about any lumps and bumps your pet has developed. Although many of the lumps and bumps are not problems, some of them are cause for concern. It’s best to have all of them checked out, just to make sure.

2. Ask about any changes you’ve noticed in your pet’s diet, energy level, water intake, output and behavior. Any of these might be important health clues.

1. Ask about the results of your veterinarian’s physical examination of your pet, including an oral health evaluation. Dental disease is one of the most common health problems that pets experience and it can lead to serious problems.

For more information, visit www.avma.org and www.avma.org/myveterinarian.

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