7 Questions to Ask Your Vet

7 Questions to Ask Your Vet was created based on emails I've received from readers. Over time, it became apparent to me that many cat owners don't communicate well with their vets.

Why? Well...

We all have many questions that we don't know how to ask. Sometimes, when the time comes, our minds go blank or we end up discussing another matter. But even people who have cats with specific medical conditions often seem to be unable to get the answers that they need.

The quality of the information we receive is directly related to the questions that we ask.

Veterinarians are very busy professionals. If you take the time to show that you care, however, your vet will take the time as well. It's your job to get your vet to take the time.

Most annual vet visits are focused on the cat owner talking about any problems their cat has while the vet conducts the exam. Then it's out the door and home. That's when the questions that you wanted to ask come back to you.

It's important for the well being of your cat that you take an active role in her care. It is vital, therefore, that you and your vet develop a two way information exchange. This exchange should result in your knowing exactly what to do to better care for your cat, and your vet knowing that you care.

7 Questions to Ask Your Vet was developed with that end result in mind. The questions and their answers are not an end in themselves, but a starting point.

Use them to find out more, use them to start a conversation, or use them to get your vet to offer information she normally wouldn't. Just use them!

Every patient, every cat owner, and every veterinarian is unique. These questions are not going to cover it all, but these are some basic questions that you should ask your vet.

This will give you some basic information on some of the topics that people are most frequently concerned about. More importantly, asking questions starts that all important dialogue with your vet, and allows you to take a proactive role in your cat's health care.

Here are the 7 questions to ask your vet...

  1. How long have you been in practice?
    It may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but it may give you a certain comfort level with your vet. Some vets study under another, more experienced vet, before branching out on their own.
  2. What are the most common mistakes your patients' owners make?
    This question can be an excellent conversation starter, and you may end up with some excellent advice.
  3. What are the most common diseases and conditions that I should know about?
    Ask your vet to briefly cover the most common conditions that develop in cats.
  4. What are the most common signs of disease that I should look for?
    You should get a good idea of the common signs of disease so that you can detect trouble early. Excessive thirst and urination, excessive vomiting, weight loss, and lethargy are some common signs of a number of diseases.
  5. What is the procedure if I have an after hours emergency? Is there a special emergency number to call?
    You won't want to have to find this information when you need it, so ask your vet now.
  6. Is there a particular diet or brand of pet food that you recommend? Why?
    The AAFCO sets certain guidelines on pet food ingredients, but commercial pet foods vary widely in their quality. Find out what your vet is feeding her own animals, and why.
  7. Should my cat be indoor or outdoor?
    There are many good reasons to keep your cat indoors, including a healthier, longer life. Ask your vet about the specifics of your situation, and any risks.

That list should get you started on a good conversation with your vet. While you're at it, here are 7 More Questions to Ask Your Vet.

I recommend that if you are starting a relationship with a new veterinarian, that you include these in your own list of questions. If you've had the same vet for a while, and you haven't asked these questions, ask them now.

Print them out, or write them down. Perhaps a question or two has sparked additional questions in your mind. Write them down as well, and read them all to your vet. Write down her answers, too.

You'll find that this starts a conversation that leads to other questions you may never even have thought to ask your vet... sometimes weeks later, when it counts.

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