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Essential Questions for your Veterinarian

Caring for your pet’s health and wellbeing is the most important part of being a good pet owner. Feeding high-quality food, getting plenty of exercise, and maintaining a regular check-up schedule with your veterinarian will help to keep your pet feeling their best. To get the most out of your next visit to the vet, be sure to ask these essential questions to give you more insight into your pet’s health.

What is a healthy weight for my pet?

One of the first things your vet will do during your visit is weigh your pet and examine their body condition. Obesity is a growing problem, particularly for cats and dogs, and weight can slowly creep up over time. Typically, a dog or cat is considered overweight if they are 10%-20% heavier than the ideal weight for their particular breed and size. Obesity is a concern for pet parents because it can cause a myriad of health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis. If your pet is underweight, it can also be cause for concern as it may signal the presence of a disease or parasite. Even if your veterinarian does not indicate that your pet is over or underweight, be sure to ask what the ideal weight for your pet is. This will help you monitor your pet’s weight at home and give you a benchmark for your next vet visit.

How much exercise does my pet require?

Exercise is an important part of a healthy life for us and our pets. However, a pet’s exercise needs can vary greatly depending on their breed, size, and weight. Additionally, your pet’s exercise needs will change as they age and your vet will be able to recommend ways to keep them active without putting undue stress on their bodies. It isn’t just dogs that require a good exercise routine, cats and smaller pets also benefit from movement and play. If you’re having a hard time motivating your pet to exercise, your vet will be able to offer recommendations for toys or activities for you and your pet to enjoy together.

What health problems should I look out for in this breed?

Although we typically think of dogs as having breed-specific problems, the same can be true of cats, rabbits, and other small pets. In many cases, early identification and disease recognition is key to minimizing impact on your pet’s health. Be sure to ask your veterinarian to explain any breed-specific diseases or areas of concern. If you know what signs and symptoms to look out for, you can be a better advocate for your pet.

Are my pet’s teeth healthy?

Dental hygiene is an important part of overall health, but it’s often an area that pet owners overlook. Always ask your veterinarian if your pet is showing signs of dental disease, which can cause larger problems down the road. If you’re daunted by the task of brushing your pets’ teeth, your veterinarian can give you guidelines for brushing, and may recommend dental treats or other products to support teeth and gum health.

Does my pet have specific dietary requirements?

Feeding your pet a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet is essential, but food allergies or sensitivities can occur in pets as well as humans. In addition to digestive issues, certain foods can cause allergic skin reactions that can lead to hair loss, dry skin, and overall discomfort. Even if you’ve been diligent about providing high-quality food, your pet may have additional requirements or adjustments to their diet. If you suspect your pet is in need of a dietary change, ask your veterinarian to recommend some alternatives and give you guidance around evaluating nutritional labels for your pet.

What do you recommend for flea, tick, and other preventative treatments?

Even if your pet spends most of its time indoors, they can still be exposed to pests including fleas, ticks, and mosquitos that carry a variety of diseases that can cause your pet harm. Ask your veterinarian to recommend products to prevent heartworm, ringworm, fleas, and ticks that fit in your budget and are sustainable long term.

What is my pet’s vaccination schedule?

There are some vaccines that are standard for pets, such as the Rabies vaccine which is required by law for dogs and cats, the Da2PP (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus) for dogs, and the FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia) for cats, while other vaccines are recommended based on your pet’s lifestyle. If your pet spends time outdoors or interacts frequently with other animals, your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccinations to prevent lyme disease, feline leukemia, or bordetella. Be sure to ask your vet what vaccinations are recommended for your pet and when they should receive the vaccine or additional booster shots.

Remember - the more questions you ask your veterinarian, the more information you will have about your pet’s current health, potential future problems, and ways to improve their quality of life. Your veterinarian will be glad to provide you with the guidance you need to keep your pet healthy and happy for years to come.

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