How to Have a Successful Visit to the Vet

Three Parts:Preparing for Your VisitHelping at the Veterinarian OfficeFollowing Up Your Appointment

Visiting the vet for a routine check-up or for a health concern throughout your pet's life can be a very difficult time due to constant worry of what may happen. To make your visit as efficient and useful as possible, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared in advance, that you use time effectively at the vet’s office, and be prepared to follow up afterwards. You can always prepare yourself and your pet for the visit so that it remains as stress-free and helpful as possible.

Part 1
Preparing for Your Visit

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    Schedule an appointment. This lets the vet know you are coming, so he will have space in the schedule for you. Make sure that you have a reason for coming in when you call the vet’s office. This doesn’t have to be a problem for your pet, as just regular check-up can be a good reason. You don’t want to come in without an appointment, because your risk having other people in line, and the vet won’t be able to see you and your furry (or feathery or scaly) friend.
    • Whatever your reason, be clear about it when you talk to the receptionist. If you have something you want to discuss with the vet along with regular shots or other examinations, let the receptionist know so you can get the proper amount of time.[1]
    • It can also be a good idea to ask the receptionist if there is anything you should do ahead of the appointment. Give a brief explanation of the problem and ask if you need to bring a urine or stool sample, not feed your pet, or do anything else in particular.
    • Not all vets treat all kinds of animals. If you have a more exotic pet, like a bird, reptile, or rodent, make sure the vet you call treats that kind of animal. Even if the vet doesn’t, his office will probably be able to refer you to someone who does.[2]
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    Take regular care of your pet. This includes brushing his fur or teeth, and trimming any nails, claws, or talons as necessary. This will also help keep your pet clean and healthy, hopefully reducing the need for additional vet visits. In additional to regular care, make sure to touch your pet regularly. This isn’t normal petting, but doing things like checking their face, legs, tail, and any other part of their body you don’t normally touch. The familiarity with handling will ease a lot of the tension for your pet and it also makes it much easier for you and the vet to look for health problems and to administer medication.[3][4]
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    Make notes about your pet’s condition. If something is bothering you about your pet, it is really helpful to keep notes about the things that you notice, such as reduced appetite, biting one area of the body, pacing, making strange noises, or vomiting. You should be able to provide information about the duration of the problem, the precise symptoms, and any reactions that you have noticed in your pet.
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    Prepare questions for the vet. You’ll want your visit to go smoothly and quickly, so be prepared when you come in with a list of questions to ask the vet. There is no set list of questions, as they will be dependent on your pet’s condition. It can help to write them down so you have all the information and don’t forget anything when talking to the vet.[5]
    • Some things to think about having questions for include asking about weight, diet, and vaccinations. These are good things to ask about on every visit, as the answers may change depending on your pet’s age.[6]
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    Get your pet comfortable with a carrier. Because you will transport your pet using a carrier, you don’t want him associating the carrier with a painful experience like the vet. Before the appointment, leave the carrier out with some treats or toys in it to let your pet get comfortable with the idea of going into it. If he does go in, give him warm praise as a way to reinforce the good behavior.[7]
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    Withhold food the night before the exam. Avoid feeding your pet the night before. That way, if you or the vet offers a food reward to encourage good behavior, your pet will be hungrier and more likely to respond. Of course, don’t do this if your pet’s medical condition means he needs to eat.[8]

Part 2
Helping at the Veterinarian Office

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    Bring a copy of your pet’s medical records. This is especially important for a first time visit, as the vet will need them to learn a little more about your pet. Plus, with the records, you won’t have to remember every detail about your pet’s history, as it will be in their records. This includes a medical history and any vaccinations your pet has gotten.[9]
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    Get to the vet on time for your appointment. Vets are busy, with many patients to see, so you should be prompt and ready to go. Showing up late means the vet will probably have less time to meet with you and your pet. The best thing to do is try to be a little bit early, so you’re ready when the appointment starts, or you have some leeway if there is a delay in your travelling.[10]
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    Keep your pet restrained. Unless you have a big dog, or other animal that you can’t physically carry around, they should be kept in a carrier. Holding your pet, even on a leash, can give them the opportunity to escape, or get into other trouble. Once in the vet's, do not let your pet wander about freely. Many other owners with their pets will be in there and it is very easy for things to get out of control when pets confront one another. Most vets will expect that you keep your pet in its box or on its leash.[11]
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    When you arrive, go to the exam room as soon as you can. You will probably need to ask the receptionist’s permission for doing this, as they like to keep a handle on where everyone is. This will avoid waiting, which can make your pet nervous. Instead, getting him into the room will help him get comfortable in the new setting.[12]
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    Pay attention to the exam. This is not the time to check your cell phone or read a book. Watch what the vet is doing, and pay attention if he tells you anything important about your pet’s condition. If you have any questions about what the vet is doing during the exam, feel free to ask.[13]
    • Don't be afraid to ask the vet to show you how to give a prescribed medication. Vets are more than happy to show you and be reassured that you fully understand what needs to be done.
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    Remain calm during your visit. Most animals can sense your fear or anxiety. Keep your voice soft and calm, and try to act as normally as possible. This will help keep your pet from getting nervous or agitated.[14]
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    Bring special treats to the vet. Use them to reward good behavior, not to calm your pet down. You want your pet to associate a visit to the vet as positive.[15]
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    Ask about finances. Taking care of a pet can be expensive, especially if she needs some additional medical treatment. If the vet suggests something, be willing to discuss possible options. This can include cheaper procedures, or paying large bills in installments. Your vet probably knows several different treatments, and can help if you are honest about your ability to pay.[16]

Part 3
Following Up Your Appointment

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    Schedule your next visit. Before you leave, make sure you have an appointment for next time. When that is will be determined by what kind of animal you have, your pet’s age, and any medical conditions he is facing. Schedule while you are at the office to make sure you don’t forget. If you are worried about conflicting with something else, schedule in advance, and call again when check your schedule to change the appointment as needed.
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    Relax when you get home. Visiting the vet can be stressful for both you and your pet, so take it easy for the rest of the day. Consider giving your pet a treat, or doing something fun together.[17]
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    Call if you have additional questions. Sometimes you won’t remember everything the vet told you, or something else will come to your attention after the visit. That’s fine, just be sure to call and talk to the vet in order to get those sorted out quickly. Write your questions down as you think of them, which can help you remember what they are.[18]
    • A call with the vet after your appointment is a good thing to schedule while you are at the vet’s office. That way, you’ll have some time to process what you’ve been told (especially if it isn’t good news), and you know both of you can be available to discuss your pet.[19]


  • Making sure that your pet has an understanding of basic commands will help during the exam. Pets that respond to commands like dogs sometimes need the extra reminder in these stressful situations.

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