Your cat or dog might not agree, but a visit to the vet is a worthwhile opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with the person best suited to offer tailored information and advice about your furry friend’s care. From what type of treats to serve, to the reason for that strange twitch your cat has been doing, your vet holds an abundance of answers.
Questions You Should Ask the Vet
Here are some topics to ask the vet during your next appointment.
1) Is My Pet’s Exercise Routine a Good Fit?
Exercise routines easily take on a habit: the morning dog walk or the evening play session with kitty. But factors change over time so it’s important to adjust your routine in response to changes such as your pet’s age, current weight, the season and daily temperature. Your dog’s breed is another factor. For example, Brachycephalic breeds – dogs and cats with a short nose and flat face such as a pug or bulldog, or a Himalayan or Burmese cat – shouldn’t overdue it in warmer weather.
Even if your pet looks perfectly fit, run your current exercise routine past your vet to see if he or she sees room for improvement.
2) Is My Dog/Cat the Right Weight?
You look at your dog or cat every day, so it can be difficult to notice when he’s putting on (or taking off) some pounds. Even if you think your pet looks the same as always, confirm he’s in the right weight range. Also, if you’re not familiar with how to assess your pet’s weight at home by feeling his ribs, ask the vet for a demonstration. Catching a problem early – whether it be the result of a few too many treats or the onset of disease – can make it much easier to correct.
3) Is it Okay to Feed This to My Dog/Cat?
If it’s been a few years since you’ve chatted about your pet’s diet, it’s a good idea to revisit the issue. Ask the vet what type of food (wet, dry) to serve your pet, how much food is ideal, what types of treats are best and how frequently your pet should be treated. Most importantly, be honest. If you tend to share any human foods, don’t be afraid to mention it. You want your vet to have a full picture of your pet’s daily intake.
4) Why Does My Dog or Cat Do This?
Whether it’s a harmless but odd quirk, or something more intrusive such as nighttime awakenings, there’s almost always a behavior going on that has you curious. There may be a medical cause – for example, nighttime restlessness could be as simple as a tooth ache, or could stem from complications due to age. Ask the vet. If the issue doesn’t have a medical origin, he or she may point you to a behaviorist or suggest some changes you can try at home.
5) Are There Any Regional Issues I Should be Aware of – at Home, or on My Upcoming Vacation?
Your vet is privy to news about issues that come and go in your region, such as an outbreak of an illness, an increased population of a predatory animal or a parasite, or a dangerous plant or weed. Also, if you are traveling with your pet, ask the vet about any problems in that area. If your vet doesn’t know, they should be able to point you to a local resource.
6) What Supplements or Natural Remedies May Help My Pet?
Dietary supplements are gaining recognition for their role in supporting good health. For example, fish oil is known to help itching or dry skin, while glucosamine and chondroitin have been linked to promoting joint health. Other items – such as probiotics – can help with digestion, overall health and immunity. Whether you have a specific health concern, or you’ve heard about a supplement you think may benefit your dog or cat, ask you vet for his or her opinion.
Natural solutions can also be beneficial with common problems. From the calming benefits of a thunder shirt, to the use of aroma therapy for the pet afraid of fireworks, an alternative solution may help.
7) What Routine Screenings is My Pet Due for Now or Soon?
From puppies and kittens to your golden oldie, early detection is your best chance to safeguard their future health. Routine screenings will monitor your pet’s current health, provide markers for the future, and give an early warning about disease. The vet will let you know what your pet is currently due for, but it’s also helpful to ask the vet what’s coming up in the next six to twelve months to enable planning.
8) What Do You Recommend for Dental Care?
Beyond just healthy teeth and better breath, keeping up with your dog or cat’s dental care can impact his overall health and well-being. Periodontal disease, which is very common in pets, is not only painful but can lead to other health problems such as heart, kidney, and liver problems. The discomfort associated with tooth or gum problems can subject your pet to stress, which can wear him out and lead to other issues.
Find out your pet’s recommendations for dental care, both professionally and at-home, and discuss the best types of food and treats for promoting healthy teeth.
A close and interactive relationship with your vet is the best way to keep your furry family members in the best of health.
Dr. Katy Nelson is the mother of five – two human and three animal – kids, an avid nutrition and fitness enthusiast, and an admittedly rabid Louisiana sports fan. She is an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, VA., as well as the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8. A Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ) accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ), Dr. Katy is the Animal Health Reporter for ABC7 News, and serves as “Dr. Pawz” on WTOP Radio. Dr. Katy is also a founding partner of PetsMove.org, a national health and fitness initiative aimed at getting people healthy alongside their dogs, and serves as a media and marketing consultant for numerous pet-related companies and media outlets.
A lover of all animals, Dr. Katy carves out time for many charitable organizations in the DC area and beyond. She is also the co-executive producer on “Tell Them I Am Kind,” a documentary set to air on the PBS Broadcasting network in 2015. The documentary tells the story of the family of Catherine Violet Hubbard, one of the 20 children killed in December of 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and their mission to build an animal sanctuary in her honor.