by Karen Zamel, SJAA Volunteer
When I was younger (okay, much younger), I remember my mom’s reluctance to question or challenge our family physician – he was the expert, and she believed that questioning him was disrespecting him.
As an adult, I got game. I learned how to have a voice with my doctor – assert myself, ask hard questions, and give myself permission to request clarification. Next, I had to do the same with our vet.
We call our vet “our primary care physician” and trust her with our cats’ lives. We respect her experience and time but we engage, inquire and sometimes dig until we have enough information to accept a recommendation – or ask for another one. In our faster-than-the-speed-of-light pace and rush to get to the next meeting, it’s sometimes difficult to breathe and ask for an extra bit of detail. But, our vet knows we want to be involved and informed guardians and she is okay with that.
So, here are a few tips from personal experience that might help with all things “vet.”
- Choose a vet who will engage with you – and is comfortable with questions.
- Follow-up is okay. As we drive away from our vet’s office, I often think of what I should have asked earlier. Our vet is great about responding to voice mails and emails.
- Do your own research. When it comes to understanding pet medications and procedures, the Internet is your friend.
- Getting a second opinion doesn't only apply to people. And, pet specialists exist for almost everything.
- Don’t let the stressful but temporary chaos of the vet’s office distract you from being thorough.
- Equip yourself with a basic set of questions so that you don’t have to react on the spot in the exam room. What are the side effects? What are the other options? What effect will this have on my pet? Should I change his/her diet as a result of this medication/procedure? Is this the only/best course of treatment?
- Plan for emergencies. Know in advance what facilities provide 24-hour care and get a recommendation from a trusted source. Find out about extent of care, overnight staffing (if vets or techs are on duty overnight), and inquire about visitation policies.
- Over-treatment isn't just a human risk. We learned that less can be more.
This blog is in honor and memory of our cat, Mopps.