OK, so you may never reach true BFF status with your pets’ veterinarian. But with some great advice and a little hard work, you might just rank yourself among one of his/her best clients.
And, no, it has nothing to do with how much you spend on your pets’ healthcare. (Trust me, we have plenty of big spenders we’d often wish went elsewhere for all their clueless shenanigans.) Instead, what we’re looking for is how much you care about your pet...and whether you’re willing to do what it takes to get your pet’s healthcare needs met––regardless of your bank account's true value.
To that end, here’s a top 10 list for meeting your vet halfway on your pet’s care. (After all, your vet can only do so much without your help.)
1. Timing is key
Arrive on time for your appointments. Call if you’re going to be late. If you need to cancel––even at the last minute––call and do so. We’d rather not count you as a no-show when we could be giving your spot away to a needy pet (or get started on our surgeries early, as the case may be).
2. Where are you???
Yeah, we need to learn how to pay attention, too (it goes both ways, as with most items on this list). But when you’re on your cell phone discussing your shopping list or a relative's obnoxiousness, it doesn’t bode well for your pet’s health.
3. Questions, please!
Please ask! Veterinarians want you to ask great questions––any questions, really. Not only does this let us know you’re engaged in your pet’s healthcare, the content of your questions helps inform us of what you expect from us, thereby allowing us to better serve you...and your pet, of course.
4. Make a list
One thing I love is a pet owner who walks in the door with a list of questions. Nothing says, “I love my pet” more than a notepad that screams, “I can’t possibly remember everything I need to ask unless I write it down.”
Again, ask for them in writing. Question their necessity, if you must. And make your best effort to follow them.
6. Honesty counts
When you know you can’t possibly perform a task or afford a treatment option we might recommend, for the love of God, please say so! Can’t pill her? Cant brush his teeth? Don’t know how to get her weight down? We can’t treat your pet properly unless you fess up to your (and/or your pet’s) limitations or misunderstandings. And don’t worry, we’ll always forgive you your “sins” as long as you speak up.
7. Treat our staff well
One serious deal-breaker between client and veterinarian? Treating our staff poorly. Yell at the receptionist ‘cause you’re having a bad day and I promise we’ll have a falling out. Our staff are people too, you know? (And usually, we love them more than we love your patronage.)
8. Pay your bills
Not everyone can afford everything veterinarians can offer. We know that. That’s why we’ll almost always work with you. But we can’t do that unless we know where your limits lie. Moreover, we won’t likely want to work with you in the future if you renege on your financial obligations and betray our trust. We gotta live, too, right?
9. Report back
After leaving the vet’s with a diagnosis in hand, keep a log of your pet’s symptoms, medications and progress. I promise we’ll love you for it.
10. Mutual respect = trust
Here’s the biggie (and again, it goes both ways). We trust you to treat your pet with respect and adoration. You trust us to treat your pet as we would our own. Just remember the Golden Rule and we’ll all get along GREAT.
Oh, and don't forget to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) the topics you’d most like to hear about––medical, money, ethical or otherwise––and prepare yourself for my opinionated answers.
Dr. Patty Khuly