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Healthy Paws: 10 Tips for a Successful Veterinary Visit

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

We understand that taking your pet to the veterinarian can be sometimes be stressful or frustrating. At Clarendon Animal Care, we use numerous stress-free techniques to make the visit easier for you and your pet. But below are a few tips that can help any veterinary visit run a bit more smoothly:

  1. Accustom your pet to its carrier and to traveling in the car. Positive reinforcement along with a gradual (re)introduction can go a long way win pets that are apprehensive about the car/carrier.
  2. If your veterinarian doesn’t already have your pet’s medical record on file, bring it with you or have your previous veterinary team send or fax the records — or, at a minimum, bring your own notes on your pet’s health and medical history. Don’t send your pet with a person who doesn’t have the information the vet will need to help your pet — or if you have to do this, thoroughly document your pet’s current condition on paper and make sure you’re available by phone to answer questions that may come up. If possible, having records sent in advance of your appointment will allow us to review them more thoroughly for a more meaningful conversation during your appointment.
  3. Arrive on time or a few minutes early for your appointment. This allows time for any paperwork as well as allows everyone to be a little less rushed.
  4. Unless your children can generally behave without distracting you or interfering with your veterinary team’s ability to examine or treat your pet or talk to you about your pet, consider leaving your children with a babysitter while you take your pet to the veterinarian. That said, we are parents of small children ourselves and try to make it a fun experience for kids — we have some small children’s toys and generally enjoy indulging inquisitive young kids. But, if you know having your kids with you will be a major distraction, finding an alternative activity for them will allow for a more efficient and effective visit.
  5. Turn your cell phone off while you are in the exam room. This allows for fewer distractions while we discuss your pet.
  6. Know what medications your pet is receiving (including supplements), as well as how much, how often and how long it is given, and/or bring them with you. A written list, including dosages, is also helpful!
  7. Share your observations and concerns with your veterinarian – after all, you know your pet better than anyone else does. Don’t hesitate to bring up your observations and concerns no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
  8. Ask questions and ask again until you have a good understanding of what’s going on and ask for your answers in writing! This helps with relay of information back at home and gives you something to reference later on.
  9. Ask for handouts, brochures, or even reputable online sources of information about your pet’s condition. The more you understand your pet’s condition, the better we can work together to manage it.
  10. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. They’re given for one very important reason — to keep your pet healthy. Along these lines, if you feel that you’re not getting the desired or expected outcome with our recommendations, let us know! There are often many ways to address or treat a problem, and we can’t make timely changes to a treatment plan if we don’t know how it is working (good or bad). Your input and follow up is an integral part of a treatment plan!

We hope your next veterinary visit runs smoothly, is low-stress and ends with a clear treatment plan!

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