We are always here and always happy to help your animals when they are sick. You may not realize this but you can be instrumental in helping us figure out what is happening to your pet. Your dogs and cats can’t speak to us and tell us where they hurt or what they swallowed when your back was turned. That means we need to use other means to put the puzzle together and some of the pieces of that puzzle can only come from you. One of the first things that happen when you bring your pet to the vet is the taking of your pet’s history. That means that you will be asked several questions by the veterinary technician (nurse) and/or the receptionist and then often more in-depth questions by the vet.
Here are some things that you can tell us that can help us get to a diagnosis and treatment more quickly.
Watch for your pets’ “in & outs” by answering these questions:
- How much water does your pet drink? An exact measurement is not necessary but knowing generally if your pet drinks excessively or at least more than it used to is important for us to know. If you have more than one cat, isolating a cat from the others in one room of the house for a period of time can be helpful in determining this.
- What has your pet’s appetite been like recently? Is it increased, decreased or any different than it has been in the past? Has your dog or cat suddenly started rejecting a food it used to love? Dogs and cats do not desire a constant variety of foods. If your dog or cat suddenly seems to dislike a food they used to eat willingly, this is more likely to be a change in appetite rather than a change of attitude about the food. Simply switching foods is unlikely to be a permanent fix to the problem and can often cause additional issues like vomiting and diarrhea.
- Is your dog or cat urinating and defecating normally? If you have a dog that uses a yard or has a dog door, accompany your dog out into the yard occasionally. It can be helpful to know if your dog is straining to urinate or is urinating in one long stream or in several spots. Knowing whether or not your dog or cat is able to pass urine can be the difference between life and death. Again if you have multiple cats, you can isolate one cat for a period of time with a litter box, food and water. It can also be helpful in a multiple cat household to scoop your litterbox at regular intervals and keep track of approximately how much urine and stool your cats are leaving so that you can be alerted if it suddenly changes. Does your dog or cat have hard stool or soft stool and is it passing a lot or a little or none at all?
We also use physical exam findings and diagnostics to help tell us what your pets cannot. However, if we ask you the above questions and the only answers you can give are, “I don’t know, my dog uses a dog door,” or “I don’t know I’ve got a lot of cats,” it can take longer to put together a plan to help your pet. You cannot be expected to know every little thing about what goes in and comes out of your little ones, but if you are concerned that something is not quite right then it’s time to start paying special attention to what is going on.