Now that I have your attention, it is prudent to mention that this isn’t about choosing favourites.  As veterinarians, we are happily here to help you take an active role in your pet’s healthcare. However, there are some very simple things that you can do as our clients to make it easier for us to do the best we can as your family veterinarian.  Our favourite appointments are those in which we can help our patients and our clients live their best and healthiest lives together.  


Keep an eye on the time


Try to arrive between five and ten minutes early to your appointment.  This is especially important during times of unpredictable weather, or our other seasonal affliction, road construction!  If you arrive to your appointment early and we are free to see you and your pet, we are happy to do so.  Believe me when I say that there is nothing we love more than being on time or ahead of schedule.


Speaking of time, make sure you have enough


We do our best to start and finish standard appointments within thirty minutes.  But life, and animals for that matter, can be unpredictable.  Sometimes a “standard” appointment will turn into a more in-depth medical work-up. This may include taking blood and urine samples, performing an abdominal ultrasound and taking x-rays.  If you have ever been in a hospital having these tests done to yourself, then you know that they can take some time.  We will always give you the option to wait while we perform the diagnostics, or to leave your pet with us for a period of time so that you may move on with your day.  As a general rule of thumb, I suggest that our clients budget to be at the clinic for upwards of an hour to account for some of these scenarios. So please, whenever possible, try not to book an oil change for ten minutes after your vet appointment is scheduled to end.


Bring a list of questions


I often find clients apologizing as they pull a list of questions out of their purse or pocket, to which I always respond honestly, “Don’t apologize!  I love a long list of questions.”  And it’s true.  Thinking ahead about the questions and concerns that you would like to discuss will help you and your pet get the most out of your appointment.  We like it because you may mention concerns that may not come up during a standard exam and conversation.  It helps everyone to stay organized, and to prioritize the concerns at hand.


Have the decision-maker present at the appointment


Whenever possible, please try to have the person responsible for making important health-related decisions present for the actual appointment.  We realize that this is not always possible as life and circumstance may get in the way.  However, if the main decision-maker cannot be present, please ensure that they are reachable by phone and have clearly outlined what they are comfortable with as far as diagnostic tests and treatments. Additionally, sending a detailed account of the medical concerns, either by email or hardcopy with the person bringing the pet to the appointment, is equally important.


Think about your wellness goals for your pet


This might seem difficult, but is should be easy.  Think about the perfect life for your pet.  Does your dog love to swim? Does your cat have some mobility challenges? Do you have a young pet with whom you want to travel ? Or perhaps you have a senior pet that may require extra attention to ensure that they are healthy and comfortable as they age.  These are the things that we want to discuss with you when we are tailoring a preventive medicine plan and treatment plan for your pet.  We want to know what is important to you and your pet, so that we can help you both live in health and wellness, together.


Written by Dr. Samyra Stuart-Altman

Learn more about Dr. Stuart-Altman here.