Westbury Animal Hospital
713.723.3666 · 4917 S. Willow Dr. Houston, Texas 77035 

Communication 101: Getting the most out of your vet visit

Emily Gaugh

 

Most veterinary appointments will have four phases or points of contact. Each point of contact can allow you to get the most out of your visit and in exchange ensure your pet gets the best care.

Client Service Representative:

  1. Be detailed when requesting an appointmentThis will ensure you get the appropriate amount of time with the doctor and the correct time of day for any tests that need to be performed.
  2. Inquire about requested refills so those can be pre-approved and filled.
  3. Arrive 10 minutes before your appointment to get checked in or records updated.
  4. Send your records in advance AND bring a copy with you. This is probably the most crucial point in having an effective vet visit. Lack of records can seriously delay care and result in an incomplete visit. While invoices can be helpful, they rarely have all the information needed for a complete visit.

 

Assistant/Technician:

  1. Give a summary of your concerns: Your assistant will inform the doctor so that any information needed in advance can be obtained.
  2. Bring all medications your pet is receiving including over the counter supplements.
  3. Know your pets’ food; better yet take a picture of the bag!
  4. Cost Concerns? Be upfront about financial concerns. This will not prevent you from getting the best care, but it allows your doctor the opportunity to share cost, provide estimates, and potentially generic options in medications.


Doctor:

  1. Be the detective! If you don’t provide the history, we will never get one out of the pet. Before your visit, take note of certain details. Check water consumption (less, more, same?), litterbox use, appetite, etc.
  2. Video tape anything odd you want to bring up if possible. Rarely will your pet perform the behavior in the exam room.
  3. If possible, refrain from asking questions about other pets in your household. Your vet will not have those records on hand so their answers will not be complete. Instead ask to call later to discuss your other pet or schedule their own appointment.
  4. Is your pet sick? Be specific! Use exact phrases such as, “X amount of days”, or “2 episodes of vomit”. Phrases like, “for awhile” can be very subjective and delay your pet’s diagnosis.
  5. If you do not understand, ASK!

 

Check Out/follow up:

  1. Be consistent! Schedule your next appointment in advance. If scheduling a check up for a chronic condition or follow up on a procedure choose the same veterinarian.
  2. Double check your invoice and never hesitate to ask questions.

 

When choosing your veterinarian, make sure you find someone with similar communication styles. Veterinary staff members, including doctors, are also prone to lapses in communication. Never hesitate to ask for clarification to ensure your expectations are being met.

 

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