Veterinarians provide a vital role in the health of our pets. It is important that you understand the decisions they make and the advice they give. Below are the top questions we think you should ask your veterinarian when your pet is unwell. These questions don't necessarily always have an easy answer, but they should help you achieve a better understanding of the options available and the right course of action.
Is there An Alternative?
Where one treatment option is presented, it is often a good idea to ask your veterinarian if there are any alternatives. This is not meant to challenge your veterinarian's advice, merely to open up the conversation should there be any financial concerns with the treatment plan, worries about lengthy hospitalization, or if there are perceived difficulties in treatment administration. For example, many owners don’t feel comfortable giving insulin injections to a newly diagnosed diabetic pet.
What are the Pros and Cons Of The Options?
Where multiple treatment options are presented, it is really important for you to understand the reasons for and against each to help you make the right choice. Often, financial considerations are important and these drive which option is ultimately chosen.
Why Do We Need This Information?
If you aren't sure why your veterinarian needs to take a second blood test or run expensive external lab tests, just ask. Again, this isn’t meant to challenge your veterinarian; it’s just to increase your understanding and help you make the right choices. Sometimes, veterinarians need to run tests that don't directly impact the treatment plan. Often they need to see how treatment is working or to offer prognosis advice.
What Happens Next?
It is very important for you to understand the next steps in the treatment of your pet. For the most part, this is to ease your concerns and manage your own expectations on how long things will take and what the expected course of treatment looks like. For example, were you expecting the six weeks of home care and physiotherapy for your dog after having a broken leg repaired?
What Would You Do If This Were Your Pet?
This is a common question that pet owners want to ask but don't because it’s a difficult question for your veterinarian to answer. Your veterinarian’s circumstances may well be different from yours. They may also feel that by answering, they will be directing your decision-making. It isn't an unreasonable question to ask, however, and most veterinarians understand that what you are really saying is, “I’m not sure of what decision to make; please, can you give more information to help me make it?”
Ask The Question You Think Is Silly or Embarrassing
This is often the most important question of all. For example, don't be embarrassed about not knowing what a word means. A veterinarian may use clinical terms that are not in your vocabulary so just ask what pruritus (itching) or coprophagia (eating poop) means. Better still, ask your embarrassing question to a LovePets professional. They’re here to help.