The A to Z of visiting the vets: Tips on making your trip less stressful

veterinarian with two small dogs
Chris Stoddard
Chris Stoddard

A trip to the veterinary surgeon can be not only upsetting for your animal, but also a bit of an ordeal for the owner! With this in mind read on to discover an A-Z of hints and tips that could make your trip to the vets less worrying.

A - Appointments Most vets have an appointment system, therefore if you cannot keep your appointment please ring and let them know! Not only will they be able to book in another (possibly very sick) animal, many receptionists will remember names! B - Biting dogs If you think your dog could be aggressive with the vet or staff please let them know beforehand. You must be honest and not use the normal line, “He's never done that before”. This will save on stress for everyone and bitten hands. C - Cat Boxes These can come in all shapes and sizes; however the best ones are rigid plastic. They need to be secure (and not held together with bits of string) as the amount of cats that can escape these boxes might surprise you. Wicker baskets might look good, but they are also great for the cat to anchor their claws into, when trying to extract them from the carrier in the surgery! D - Dental checks It might surprise you to know that dogs and cats can start showing dental disease at only three years old. Ask at your surgery about regular dental checks and make sure your vet checked your pet’s teeth at booster time. E - Euthanasia It's a subject none of us like to think about when it concerns our pets, however beforehand it is wise to think about what you would like done with your pet after euthanasia. Home burial, mass cremation or to have ashes back are some of the options available and planning ahead can save some distress. F - Fees Veterinary costs can always leave a dent in the wallet! Always check upfront with your vet if budget is an issue and your animal needs a lot of treatment. Some practices may do schemes or recommend charities that can help. G - Going home If your animal has had an operation, make sure that you know how to care for them at home afterwards. Nursing staff should give you a discharge sheet with care instructions on it, along with any medication that has been prescribed. If you do not understand any of the instructions then make sure you ask before leaving the surgery. H - Hospitalisation Just like children animals like home comforts. If your pet has to be hospitalised then consider leaving their favourite blanket or toy with the staff at the surgery. I - Insurance Vets should be impartial when it comes to giving advice about insurance companies. It may sound like a cliché but always read the small print. Some companies do not insure for certain conditions or dietary problems such as specialist food for diabetes. J - Jargon If you're vets tells you something you do not understand then ask them to explain. Vets sometimes forget that clients do not know terminology and may use long words that can baffle you! Get them to cut the jargon and speak plainly. K - Kennel cough Most kennels in the UK require a kennel cough vaccine before they will take your dog in for boarding. Make sure your dog is up-to-date with this in good time before your holiday; otherwise you may be in for a shock when your dog is refused. L - Locums You may visit the vets and find yourself in a consultation with a locum, this is not a problem as all will be qualified, however be sure to enquire about follow-up treatment as many locums are only short term staff and need to complete medical history fully. M - Medical history It is up to the client which practice they want to use. Never be afraid of changing vets, all you need to do is provide your new vet with the details of your previous one. Staff can then request medical history to be sent to have a complete record of your animal’s health. N - Notice boards These can be a great source of information with everything from animals requiring homes to pet sitting. If you are looking for behavioural training then ensure the person who is advertising is fully qualified. It seems these days everybody who can teach a dog to sit thinks they are an animal behaviourist. O - Obesity Obesity is a massive problem in the UK with dogs and cats. The majority of practices will not charge you for weighing your animal. If your pet is on the large side, regular checks and the practice and dietary advice can lengthen their life. P - Prescriptions Products such as flea preparations can be purchased online through various companies. It must be remembered that most of these products need a veterinary prescription. Most vets will make a charge to complete a prescription and it is the general rule of thumb that if a site is selling a prescription medicine and does not ask for a prescription - the product will probably not work and can even be dangerous. Q - Qualifications All vets in the UK will have the initials MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). They will also have the initials of where they trained for example BVM&S means they qualified at the Edinburgh Veterinary University and each UK veterinary University have their own initials. Vets that have specialised will also have other initials such as DSAS(Orth) which means Diploma in Small Animal Surgery - Orthopaedics (a bone specialist). R - Rabies If you're taking your animal abroad then you will need a pet passport. Because of the many different regulations according to which country you're visiting, the best advice is to check the DEFRA website - for the latest information. Also speak to your vet in good time before your planned trip, as in some cases a pet passport can take several months. S - Starving If your pet is having an operation be sure to check the starving requirements beforehand as pets that are fed may have their operation cancelled. This does not include rabbits or guinea pigs! T - Treatment Just like humans treatment needs to be completed to ensure that animal has recovered fully. If a vet has taken a temperature and given some injections, then asked for you to bring animal back the following day, please do so, even if the animal seems better. The vet will probably want to retake the temperature and will possibly also give a course of antibiotic tablets. Just as in humans an antibiotic course should be completed and this is not just one injection! U - Urine If you have been asked to provide a sample of your dog’s urine then make sure it is placed in a clean container. Samples presented in jam jars that now have not been washed properly may show excess sugar! Try and keep samples cold as well - the fridge is the best place. V - Visits Although some vets do not like home visits, by law they are required to provide them. Make sure upfront the cost of the visit, the time and any special directions to enable the vets to find you. Vets should provide a 24-hour service, so if your animal is ill overnight, do not hesitate to call them. W - Wildlife Wildlife (especially birds) do not do very well in normal veterinary practices. Wild birds tend to die of shock and animals such as foxes and badgers should not be handled without specialist knowledge. Do not attempt to touch these animals at first ring your local RSPCA. X - X-rays If your animal has an x-ray, then you have obviously paid for it. Do not be afraid to ask the vet to view the x-rays and have them explain them to you. Y - Young children Young children have a habit of being very excitable whilst in veterinary practices, but for their safety they need to be controlled whilst in the consultation room. Running around is not only dangerous but can distressed the animal and they may even get bitten. Carers should ensure children are not picking anything up whilst the vets is talking, as this too could be potentially dangerous. Z - Zoonosis Some conditions that animals get are termed zoonotic which means there is a chance of infection to humans. If your animal has been diagnosed with a condition you're unfamiliar with, ask the vet if there is any chance of human infection.

5 Funny (and weird) stories from a Vet

Anyone who has ever worked in the veterinary industry can tell you that sometimes you just gotta laugh to keep from crying. It’s a stressful gig with long hours, lots of noise, funky smells and even funkier bodily functions (from the animals, of course). But ask your vet staff and I’m sure they’ll tell you they wouldn’t trade it for the world. Aside from helping pets and people, they get to hear and witness some of the craziest and most hilarious stories from their dog-loving clients! Here are a few of my favourites from my time as a vet tech. 1. Sneaky Schnauzer A regular client brought his Miniature Schnauzer, Snoopy, in for her one-year check up and vaccinations. She had been a rather feisty and rambunctious puppy, and her dad was eager to show us how much she’d matured. After her visit, he boasted in the lobby about just how impeccably trained his darling Snoopy had become. We congratulated him on her progress, but it just wasn’t enough; he had to show us. Snoopy’s dad declared her excellence at the “sit, stay, come” commands and before we knew it, he had marched out the front door and plopped the pooch in the parking lot sans leash to demonstrate her obedience. Of course, Snoopy took off like a shot! Three technicians, one vet, two receptionists and an office manager later, we managed to corner Snoopy and return her to her terrified and disappointed father. Luckily our office is tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac so Snoopy the Sneaky Schnauzer was captured before she could get lost or hurt. 2. For Guests Only One Yorkie patient was proving especially difficult to potty train. The client called over and over asking for advice on how to get the pup to poop outside. He would urinate outdoors, but refused to poop until brought inside. We did our best to recommend different training techniques that may help, but the stubborn little fuzzbutt just wouldn’t be tamed! One day, the client called ecstatic, saying that it had been three days without any “surprises” on the carpet. No one could explain the sudden change, but we were happy for the client and glad the problem had resolved itself. The next day, the client phoned again sounding frustrated but amused. She had discovered the secret behind her dog’s sudden potty progress while vacuuming that morning. As she pushed the machine underneath the bed in the little used guest room, she sensed a foul odor. When she crouched down for a look, she found her dog’s dirty little secret. He had turned the guest room into his personal master bath! 3. Topical Humour A very angry client phoned to tell us that the flea product we recommended for her dog not only wasn’t killing the fleas, it was making her dog foam at the mouth! Some dogs can have very serious reactions to flea medications, so we began asking her a series of questions: Is he vomiting? Does he seem disoriented? How long ago did you give him the tablet? At this last question she shouted, “It wasn’t a tablet! I gave him the liquid you recommended!” With several products for treating and preventing parasites out there, it can certainly be confusing. This particular client had heard about the new flea tablet and confused it with the topical liquid sold over the counter at the pharmacy. Pouring topical flea liquid down a dog’s throat is disgusting, but luckily not life threatening! 4. Secret Stash A very concerned young man in his early 20s presented his Lab mix pup. The dog had suddenly become lethargic, nervous and had urinated on the owner’s lap during the drive to the office. Fearing serious conditions like epilepsy or poisoning, the vet began asking a series of questions. The young man was very evasive about responding to questions related to poisoning. The vet finally became frustrated and demanded to know what the dog had eaten, stating that he could die if not given the correct treatment. The boy broke down in tears and confessed that the pooch had found and eaten his stash of marijuana. We assured him that not only would the puppy make a full recovery, but also that we had no intention of reporting him to the police! 5. Revenge Is A Dish Best Served “Gold” A particularly pushy Rottweiler by the name of Penny has long been an office darling. Whenever she visits the clinic she marches around like she owns the place, presenting her stumpy butt to be scratched by all she encounters. One day, Penny’s mom wanted to take a nap, but Penny had other plans. She tried nudging her owner, whining, growling, and pawing at her; nothing worked. Finally, Penny came up with a plan that definitely got her mom’s attention–she snatched a pair of 1.5 carat diamond and gold earrings off the bedside table! After a game of chase that was horrifying to the owner and loads of fun to Penny, it was determined that the studs had gone down the hatch. While Penny enjoyed several days of high fibre canned food, her mom got the task of sifting through her poop until the earrings reemerged. (Article source: Various)

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