If you’re like most pet parents, you only visit the veterinarian once or twice a year. Those few minutes with your pet’s doctor are valuable time to ask questions and make sure your pet is as healthy as can be.
- Is my pet a healthy weight?
With half of all American pets overweight or obese – shaving nearly two years off of their lives, on average – this question could mean extra time with your best friend.
- Does my pet need a dental cleaning? What at-home dental care does my pet need?
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have dental disease by age 2. Untreated dental disease can cause chronic pain and infection, leading to more serious diseases such as kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.
- Would my pet benefit from grain-free food?
Many dogs and cats are sensitive to wheat and soy, causing vague symptoms like itchy paws and ears, bloated tummies, and picky eating. If your pet could use a little more pep in his step, you may want to ask how food choices affect Fido or Fluffy’s demeanor.
- How do I stop my pet from… knocking over trash cans? shredding toilet paper? other annoying habits?
Does your pet display destructive or bothersome behavior at home? Don’t assume it’s normal – ask your vet about it! You might find out that your pet is trying to tell you “I’m bored!” (Check out ideas for exercising your pets here.)
- Should my pet have tests for hidden diseases?
Some pet illnesses – like diabetes or kidney disease – may not have visible symptoms until they’re advanced. Ask your veterinarian if your pet needs blood or urine tests to catch disease before it becomes severe.
- Does my pet need any preventative care?
Some pets are more prone to ailments like arthritis or cancer than other breeds. Additionally, some geographical areas necessitate preventative care like flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Make sure your veterinarian knows you are interested in helping your pet stay healthy for the long haul.
- Do I need to purchase pet insurance?
According to Pet Insurance Quotes, less than 1 percent of American pet owners have pet health insurance – yet 66 percent of pets will have a costly medical emergency in their lifetimes. Pet health insurance covers accidents and illness, including costly conditions like cancer ($20,000+ treatment).
- Would my pet benefit from grooming?
Even if you’re not trying to keep your animals in show-ready condition, they may still benefit from regular grooming sessions to keep their fur detangled and soft.
- At what age will my pet be considered a senior?
Different breeds have different average lifespans, and may be considered a senior as early as 6 years old or as late as 10 years old. Senior pets have different nutritional and fitness needs than their younger friends, and could benefit from additional preventative care to ensure a long, healthy life.
- Is my dog too old to learn?
Many pet owners mistakenly believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – and that annoying behaviors are impossible to change once your dog is mature. Luckily, dogs can learn and modify their behaviors, so ask your veterinarian for a referral to a dog behaviorist if your older pup is displaying destructive behavior.
- Can you recommend other pet services?
Some veterinarians have rapport with groomers, sitters, and boarders, and may know which ones to avoid. Your vet’s office may also provide some ancillary services, like boarding or grooming, that you might not know about yet. If you like and trust your veterinarian, their recommendation could make choosing a pet service provider that much easier.
- How often do we need to come back?
Pets age much faster than humans, and may need more frequent check-ups than people. Ask your veterinarian how often you need to bring your pet in for exams.
Perhaps more important than any particular question, remember to visit your veterinarian regularly and pay attention to what they tell you. You may want to bring a notepad to write down suggestions and recommendations. Your veterinarian is a great resource for you and your pet, so remember to call their office when your pet is experiencing anything abnormal.