In the past, when I was going to a vet, whether it was for a scheduled exam or with a medical problem, I just went. What else would one need, right? Show up, bring the dog(s).

Then I came home and realized how many things I forgot to ask or mention.

 

You can do that only so many times before you realize that perhaps you should get better prepared. I started making notes before hand, making lists, tracking symptoms. Today, I would not go unprepared. The more you have your sh*t together, the better value you get out of the visit.

How to prepare when visiting your regular veterinarian

Make a list of all your concerns

If you have the time, start a day or two before hand; you’d be surprised how many times you’ll go back to add things. I put down everything that is bothering me, however trivial it might seem. You never know what’s important and what is not.

Your list should include

 

If the symptom is intermittent, bring evidence

Many times your dog might be limping, showing other signs of pain and act perfectly fine when at the vet’s office. It’s not unusual. As the adrenaline gets going it can mask many symptoms. Other things just happen only from time to time. If you can, videotape the concerning behavior. It is much easier to show than trying to explain or re-enact.

If your dog has diarrhea or vomits, bring a sample. Bring urine sample. Ideally, you want first morning pee but you also want the sample to be fresh. Come clean to your vet when you collected your samples and how and how you stored them.

If symptoms are chronic, chart them

With any ongoing issue, I like to keep a visual chart. I include the symptom(s) in question as well as other details and things that I figure might influence what’s happening. Jasmine’s chart got quite elaborate. You can keep a diary too but I find that a visual chart allows to see any progress, decline or correlations in a glance. It is much easier to glean some information that way.

If the time of the day is relevant, include that in the chart as well.

Be prepared for questions

 

The more accurate information you can give your vet, the better they can diagnose the problem.

If you’re visiting a new or a second opinion veterinarian

Beyond the things on the first list, these are things you will need

 

How do you typically prepare for a veterinary visit?