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10 Questions You Should Ask Your Vet

Taking a proactive attitude towards preventing your pet’s health problems is the best way to make sure they have a long, happy life. Carter Veterinary Services in the Lowcountry has put together this list of the 10 most important questions you should ask your vet next time you visit to help you get the information that every pet owner should know about their animals. If you want to speak with one of our veterinarians today, reach out to us online or give us a call!

Best Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian

It’s easy to become nervous and frustrated when you bring your pet in for an exam. It’s not always even the pet’s fault; often we simply don’t know what to ask the veterinarian to glean the most information and value we can from the visit. Here are some of the best questions you should ask your veterinarian during your next visit:

#1: How much should my pet weigh?

Did you know that more than 50% of cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention? What is worse, many pet owners refuse to acknowledge that their pet has a weight problem. Being overweight can be caused by overfeeding or not enough activity, which, just like in humans, can cause some adverse health effects. So ask your veterinarian what is a healthy weight for your pet’s breed and size. The solution will likely involve changing up the type or amount of food they eat as well as adding some more exercise into their routine. Talk to your vet about what you can do to help prevent obesity in your pets.

#2: What illnesses is my pet at risk of getting?

Different breeds have greater and lesser likelihood to get different illnesses. This is a useful question if you are new to the breed and don’t know much about common illnesses in them. For example, German shepherds often struggle with their hips later in life, while cocker spaniels more commonly develop illnesses related to their ears and hearing.

Learning about the specific types of illnesses your pet is most at risk of getting can help you and your veterinarian take all the necessary preventative measures that can be taken as early as possible. Your vet will be able to provide you advice as to what can be done to reduce your pet’s risk of illness.

#3: How important is my pet’s dental care?

Talk to your vet about the routine needed to keep your dog or cat’s teeth in good health. Dental health for your pets is important for more than improving their breath, it also can help prevent serious illnesses like heart disease. Brushing your pet's teeth regularly will help prevent the negative consequences of bad dental hygiene. You can get your pet’s teeth cleaned professionally or you can do it yourself. Ideally, just like for humans, brushing should be performed daily. Animals don’t really need any paste, but it can help. If cleaning every day sounds like too much of a hassle, simply brush when you see mild gingivitis or tartar building up.

#4: Is my pet’s behavior normal?

If your pet starts wheezing or coughing after a bout of exercise, don’t assume it’s normal. Don’t assume that it’s normal if, every time they go outside, they start to itch, either. Take your pet in for their annual exam and tell your vet about any peculiar behavior you’ve been noticing with your pet over the last year. Keep a list as these things happen so when it comes time for your pet’s check-up, you’ll have a list of their behavior that your vet can interpret and help identify any issues with.

#5: Should I have my pet tested for hidden diseases?

Analyzing your dog’s or cat’s blood is a very important tool for screening out diseases. Even if your pet is not showing any outward signs of illness, the earlier a disease is identified through testing, the more treatable it will be.

As your pet doesn’t speak any human language, we have to rely on other ways to find out if they are ill. A blood test for a healthy animal can also be helpful, as it can provide a benchmark to compare against later on down the road to see how they’re doing and monitor trends. Blood tests can screen for issues like kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, diabetes, and more. The most common types of blood tests for cats and dogs are:

  1. Blood Chemistry Profile — This blood test panel lets your vet know about how their internal organs are working. Any abnormalities discovered here can help your vet decide if further tests or treatments are needed.

  2. Complete Blood Cell Count (CBC) — This test tells your vet the total number of blood cells in your pet’s blood. When this number is high or low, it can indicate infections, inflammation, or disease.

  3. Heartworm Test — A blood test can help identify whether or not your animal has heartworm disease. To be absolutely sure, a blood test is often combined with fecal examination and urinalysis.

#6: How often should my pet be visiting the vet?

The answer to this question will depend on the age and health conditions that your pet has. In general, an annual or bi-annual checkup is sufficient for keeping your pet in good health. However, if your pet is overweight or suffering from another specific condition, more regular checkups may be recommended.

#7: Do I need to get pet insurance?

The most common pet issues are not covered by most pet insurance plans — most plans don’t cover heartworm medication, spaying/neutering, teeth bleaching, vaccinations, etc. However, there are situations where pet insurance is a godsend. When disaster strikes, pet insurance can come in handy. It will all come down to you: are you the type of owner who would pursue every possible avenue to save a beloved pet, like a 10-year old basset hound that needs hip surgery or radiation for a sick munchkin cat? If the answer is “Yes, absolutely!”, it may be worthwhile to start looking into various pet insurance policies and see if you can find one that covers everything you want.

#8: What is the importance of vaccines and parasite prevention?

Viruses and parasites are hard to spot early, which is why annual testing and regular vaccines are so important. It is worthwhile to err on the safe side, as many diseases only start to show symptoms in your pet after it has gone on for a long time. By the time you notice the symptoms, treatment will likely not be as effective had the illness been identified and treatment begun sooner. Most vaccines for your pets are about preventing particular contagious diseases. Ask your vet to tell you more about the different types of vaccines your pet needs and what they prevent.

#9: Does my pet need behavior training?

Ask your vet what you can do to help improve your cat or dog’s behavior. In particular, puppies and rescue animals can need extra attention to help remedy behavioral problems. You can hire a trainer or you can work on improving your pet’s behavior yourself. Your vet will be able to provide custom recommendations for helping your particular animal.

#10: What should I do in case of an emergency?

Though most veterinary practices are not open 24/7, Carter Veterinary Services is ready to address your pet emergency any time of the week, day or night. If you are looking for an emergency animal clinic in the Lowcountry, give us a call and seek out treatment ASAP! Our emergency contact number is 843-694-1450.

Be Prepared Before You Visit Your Pet

Thinking about what you will ask the vet before you go in for your pet’s checkup will help you maximize the value of the visit and get a better idea of what you can do to help your pet live a long, healthy life. Never be nervous to ask your veterinarian questions — they are here to help! By asking lots of questions, you will become more knowledgeable and confident in regards to your pet’s health.

If you are in Hardeeville, the Lowcountry, or the surrounding region and want to schedule a checkup for your pet, call Carter Veterinary Services today to set up your appointment!