Thursday, August 18, 2016

Veterinary Visit Checklist: Part 2 Before You Leave the Office

Don't ever leave the vet's office unless you're fully satisfied that you understand what is going on with your dog. You should be walking out either with a diagnosis and a treatment plan or at least a plan of action and further diagnostics.


Don't leave the vet's office unless you got all your concerns addressed and questions answered.


When I prepare my list before hand, I make two copies. One for the vet to keep, one for me to make sure nothing gets forgotten. I don't leave until all my points had been checked off.

Make sure you understood everything your vet told you and that you're comfortable with the treatment.


Are there more than one treatment option? Did you discuss them all?

If it's complex, write it down or ask them to write it down so you can research it later. If your dog is sick and needs treatment, it's up to you to comply properly. For that, you need to understand what to do as well as why do it. Because if you don't have faith in the treatment, you're much less likely to go through with it. And no treatment, however great, will work unless it's actually administered.

If you're concerned about your ability to follow through with the plan, let your vet know.

Jasmine's vet always includes a note to contact him if for any reason the treatment plan cannot be followed. He'll then work to find a plan that will work.

Here is one thing I have ever seen only one vet ever do - provide an outline of expected treatment progress.


Should your dog feel better after the first pill? Should they get better by the next day? Is it going to take a week? A month? What should you expect to happen?

Such estimate cannot always be accurate, but it provides a guideline by which to assess whether the treatment is working or not. If your vet doesn't provide this, ask for it. Jasmine's expected progress estimate looks like this:

25 % improvement by day 4
50% by day 6
75% by day 10
100% by day 21

The actual outline, of course, depends on what is being treated. This particular outline was given after Jasmine's neck issues.

Ask not only what the treatment should do, but also what it might do and it shouldn't - side effects.


This is so important and yet with most vets getting this information is like pulling teeth. What side effects you might run into? And even more importantly, what should you do?

How should you give the medications?

Most of the time, the label will include how many pills and how often you should give. However, some medications, such as NSAIDs, have to be given with food. Others should be given on empty stomach. Yet, this is not always indicated. If you give NSAIDs on an empty stomach, you might run into stomach problems. If you give other medications, such as some antibiotics or thyroid supplement with food, it might significantly lower their effectiveness. Ask what is the best way to give them.

Ask about any contra-indications and interactions.

If you got a prescription for more than one medication, or your dog is already on other treatments, will there be some negative interactions? Can they be given together or should they be given apart? Should one follow a certain amount of time after another (such as if you're getting stomach protectant with NSAIDs)?

Same applies if you're giving any supplements. Ask whether any of them could negatively interact with the new meds.

What should you do if you miss a dose?

Find out what you should do if you forget a dose. Also find out what to do if you did give the medication and your dog happened to throw up shortly after.

When should you come for a follow-up?

I many cases, it is wise to schedule a follow-up appointment. You might be able to tell whether the treatment work or you might not. Your vet might need to get their hands on your dog again to evaluate progress or results. You might need to run a follow-up blood work or other labs.

What information do you expect to come home with from a veterinary visit?


Related articles:
Veterinary Visit Checklist: Part 1 Before the Visit
Before Getting a Second Opinion: Something Not Right? Speak Up 
Thinking Outside The Box: Solutions Tailored To Your Dog's Needs 

32 comments

  1. Very good tips! I've always asked about expected treatment progress, which I think is very good to know.

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    1. It is very good to know. I think vets themselves should have a checklist of things to send owners home with.

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  2. The outline sounds great. I haven't ever gotten one.

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    1. Jasmine's vet is the only one from those whom we ever worked with who does this. He does many wonderful things. And it is very handy.

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  3. This is very good advice and I think asking when the medication should start working, or when will I see results? If not, what to do and by when. This might be most important. I know decades ago with one cat, my gut said the eye medication we had given her for two days wasn't working right. I ran her back to the Vet only to discover that the situation had been misdiagnoised and if I had continued with the wrong meds, it might have caused blindness. I have been (sometimes annoyingly) vigilant ever since.

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    1. It's always best to be vigilant. Double-check everything. And not be afraid to speak up when the treatment doesn't seem to be doing what it should or doing what it shouldn't.

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  4. Sometimes you think you understand everything at the vet and then get home and realized you have missed something. This has happened to me several times and I always call back to double check or for further info.

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    1. That's when the web-based records come in. That's such an awesome tool. Along with other great advantages to that, one can always go it at any time and check the notes and things. Jasmine's vet is the only one so far who's using those. I miss that all the time.

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  5. Fantastic tips as I feel I always forget something and remember when I get home but am also blessed as my vet clinic has an email Ask the Vet Service so if I am not sure of something I can immediately email them which really helps plus Layla's medical records are on line so I can check there too

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    1. That is a really great service your vet offers!

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  6. These are great reminders to prepare for a vet visit. I'm fortunate that my chi's vet is wonderful and takes time to answer all my questions. They have an online service to check your dog's medical records and they always follow up with you a few days after a visit to make sure everything is okay.

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    1. Ah, I just LOVE web-based records. Jasmine's vet has them but none of the other vets we ever worked with does. Web-based records are the best invention since sliced bread.

      Well, I should rephrase that - some do have SOME info online but typically just includes basic stuff such as name, breed and age, and vaccination status. That's about it = pretty useless.

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  7. Very good questions. People need to really remember to ask all the important questions.

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    1. Sometimes it's hard to remember, particularly when your dog is sick. That's why having an actual physical list can be invaluable.

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  8. Great tips and questions. I'm so glad I have a vet who explains everything so thouroughly! It makes life so much easier!

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    1. Yes, having a vet making sure you know all you need to know makes things easy.

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  9. Great tips! It is so important for patience to understand what and why they are doing things (meds, physical therapy etc.) When in doubt, ask more questions. :)

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    1. Yes. There are no dumb questions. It's only dumb not to ask if you don't know/understand.

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  10. Excellent check list! I am a bit of a pain-in-the-butt client for veterinarians and human doctors. I insist on understanding everything before I leave. There has to be a clear line of logic between the diagnosis and the treatment for me to be satisfied. The only thing I would add to what you have said is to be patient with the veterinarian. It can take some time to give you the clear picture that your are looking for. Some veterinarians are better at explaining things than others.

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    1. Ah, good point. Kind of took that one for granted. Patience is needed on both sides :-)

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  11. Great tips! I always have more questions once I get home.

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    1. Yep. Having the lists help to reduce that.

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  12. Lovely artcile! And so true! Especially for new puppy parents! I always ask my vet if I need to come back for a check-up!

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    1. I'd say there are only a few things where follow up isn't needed. Many problems do need follow up to see whether the problem resolved or whether things are progressing the way they should.

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  13. This is fabulous advice! I especially love the idea of taking two lists to our appointments. Thank you.

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    1. Yeah, the vet always asks whether they can photocopy it :-) "Nope, you can keep it, this one is for you."

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  14. Great questions. So important to be vigilant and ask- the checklist should really help. I often get caught up in the stress of the moment and forget, but then I always do lots of online research and go or call back if necessary.

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    1. The value of checklists is highly undervalued :-)

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  15. Wonderful check list!!! My mom always forgets to ask something!!! :)

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    1. It's very easy to forget. That's why lists come in so handy.

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  16. I always make sure to get all my questions answered. Sometimes under stress of a vet visit, I may forget something so I write things down ahead of time.

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    1. That's the best way to do it, isn't it?

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