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Getting the most from the veterinary consult

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

Have you ever left a veterinary consultation and then realised there were some questions you wanted to ask, or something you didn’t fully understand about treatment options or medication?

It’s happened to me so I’m sure it’s happened to you too, but it got me thinking about ways we could all get more out of the veterinary consultation. While vets and vet nurses get great training in communication and consulting skills, we know that a focussed client who asks questions can really help the communication process.

However, if you aren’t sure what to ask how can you be an active part of the consultation process?


Find the right vet for you

It’s a common pet owner question to ask for recommendations for ‘a good vet’ from other pet owners… yet what makes a vet ‘good’ will differ from owner to owner. Finding the right vet for you is important as you need to find someone who you can communicate with well.

Specialist status or further qualifications are all lovely but if your vet can communicate with you and about your pet’s needs, then they can also find the right person to treat your pet in the event it needs care beyond their expertise.

Being in a good working relationship with your main vet is the key to better care for you and your pet.

Once you’ve found this vet, then there are still ways to help the communication process. For a consultation, even a routine one, take some time before you go to write down a few ideas or questions you have. Go with a list of queries, no matter how small or unrelated you think they are - if they are questions you need answered about your pet, then the vets is the right place to ask them.


Be prepared

It can also help if you note what you already know and so can ask questions  based around your own knowledge. If you have information on a topic, it’s worth having that to share with the vet too. While the internet is wonderful sometimes the information available isn’t that reliable, so it’s always worth sharing where you read something so your vet can help explain any differences between the advice you have read and they advice they are giving.

If your pet is unwell then it’s helpful to go with an idea of what you can cope with. There is nothing wrong in struggling to give medication or not wishing to inject your pet. We are all only human and although our pets are loved and cared for we all have our own limits. Personally I know I would struggle with a diabetic pet that needs twice daily insulin injections – don’t even ask me why… it’s just A Thing I have!

During the consultation you can ask for clarity and understanding of anything you aren’t quite sure of and it’s always good to ask for something you can read at home too. You’ll be able to focus more and be able to share the information with anyone else involved in your pets care. Many vet clinics now have great websites with information, or can direct you to reliable resources.

Also check if there are nurse consults that can help you too. These are often available for pets with chronic conditions such as arthritis or obesity. The nurses can also help teach you how to give medications and we are a valuable source of reliable information!

No communication process is ever perfect, but as a client you play a big part in it and your vet team will be very happy with an engaged client who communicates well.


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