Your pets are like your furry children, so taking them to the vet for regular checkups or when they aren't feeling well is a necessity. Those visits aren't cheap, though, so you want to get the most you can out of your investment.
The average veterinary visit in the United States runs around $45 to $55 for the office visit alone, plus the cost of vaccines, heartworm testing and a fecal exam. Expect to pay at least $100 for a wellness check, but likely more. Make sure you remember the following basics to get the most out of the visit and avoid additional costs later.
1. Take a Fecal Sample
Your vet can tell a lot about your dog or cat from their poo. A fecal sample allows the vet to test for different types of parasites. Around 34 percent of canines in the U.S. have some intestinal parasite. A fecal sample allows the vet to check for roundworms, whipworms, coccidia, hookworms and giardia.
It's easy to forget to grab the sample the morning of a vet appointment. You're in a rush to get out the door and aren't following your normal routine. Either collect the sample the day before and store in a sealed container in the fridge or put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, so you see the reminder first thing in the morning.
2. Organize Your Vet Records
The average number of pets per household depends on the type of pet. For dogs, the average home owns 1.6 dogs, and for cats, the number goes up to 2.1 cats. Keeping veterinary records organized for multiple pets isn't an easy task, but it will save you time and frustration at your next vet visit. You can simply grab your file and take it with you. You may have changed vets or have a particular question about something you found in the records.
People often organize their files by using a different colored folder for each day of the month. Create a similar system for your pets, using a different color for each animal.
3. Write Down Your Questions
If you have questions you need to ask the vet, go ahead and write them out. The notes help you remember what you wanted to ask. When you get to the appointment, there is a hustle and bustle to get to the vet's office. Your furry friend might also be anxious. It's easy to forget something you wanted to ask. If you've written it down, you'll remember to ask the question.
4. Take a Leash or Crate
No matter how fantastic or well-trained your pet is, go ahead and secure them with a leash or a crate. Cats, in particular, get scared when taken out of their natural environments. Even if your pet is the most chill animal on the planet, another animal could come into the waiting area that is out of control. If your pet is safely in a crate, you won't have to worry about any harm coming to them.
5. Take the Time to Listen
Your veterinarian deals with pets day in and day out and has highly specialized training and years of education. Listen to what he or she is advising. It's easy to start chattering about your pet and not listen carefully to the instructions the vet gives. Instead, ask what they think about how to treat Fluffy's hot spots or how to get Bruiser to eat his food.
On top of all that training, most veterinarians adore animals and own a number of their own — many of which are rescues. They understand what makes animals tick and may have some insight you haven't found elsewhere that will help you with any issues you're having with your pet.
6. Be Honest
If you accidentally left a bag of Hershey's chocolate down and your dog ate two kisses, tell your vet. Don't try to hide things because you're embarrassed. Your vet can be more helpful to your animal if they know what they're dealing with. If you're frustrated, be honest about it. If you screamed at your dog and feel bad about it, talk about how you can start rebuilding trust with your pet.
7. Take Treats
The last thing you want is for your pet to be scared to go to the vet. Anything you can do to make it a more positive experience is a plus. Take your pet's favorite treats with you. When the vet has to give a shot to your dog, for example, offer them a treat. The treat distracts the dog, making the vet's job easier, and it helps your animal associate the visit with something positive instead of something negative. Cats are a bit more challenging, so be sure to take a truly tasty tidbit, such as a piece of salmon.
Get the Most Out of Your Visit
Plan ahead to get the most out of your next vet visit. It's hard to remember everything, but if you go in prepared, you're more likely to remember the most important things. The relationship you have with your vet should be a partnership of like minds — both wanting the best for your beloved pet.