Advocating for your pet

Advocating is when you speak on behalf of someone else. You say for them what they can’t say for themselves. Since you know your pet better than anyone else, you hold the sole responsibility of expressing what you feel is in your pet’s best interest.

Below are a few tips that may helping you to better communicate with your veterinarian.

Be upfront.
Let your veterinarian know what your expectations are and what type of help or service you can expect from them. Make sure that they fully understand your do’s and don’ts so that they can respect your wishes.  Establishing a set of rules upfront can help prevent misunderstandings in the future.

Know your pet.
Do you have a pedigreed cat or dog?  Read up on the breed to find out if it’s predisposed to any particular illnesses or physical defects.  Get a good, comprehensive book on how to care for your cat, dog, or other pet, and familiarize yourself with it.  Learn what is normal, physiologically and behaviorally, for your type or breed of pet, and what isn’t.

Be specific.
It can be difficult for veterinarians to make diagnoses because they can’t ask the patient where it hurts.  It is in your pet’s best interest to explain your pet’s symptoms as specific as you can.

Keep records.
Always keep a copy of your pet’s medical records, especially as you change veterinarians. By law, a veterinarian must provide you with copies of your pet’s medical records upon request. Keep a journal of your pet’s behaviors and dates of when specific reactions occur. Jot down any questions you may think of so that you will be prepared to ask your veterinarian during your next visit.

Ask questions.
Sometimes, a veterinarian is so knowledgable in your field that they sometimes forget that some pet owners need more clarification. If you are unsure of anything, just ask. There are no stupid questions. If a veterinarian’s response is still too technical, you may consider bringing a friend who can help to further clarify any concerns you may have.

Get a second opinion.
Go at your own pace, don’t let anyone rush you into a decision you are not ready to make. If you’re not fully confident in your vet’s decision or explanation, get a second opinion if time permits. If it doesn’t you may want to do additional research on the Internet until you are comfortable with your decision.

Just remember that it’s okay to find another veterinarian. You don’t owe your current veterinarian any sort of explanation. If something doesn’t feel right, see if you can find a veterinarian that works better for you. You want to make sure that you do the right thing for you and your pet’s well-being.

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