Five Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian

Dr. Ernie Ward gives you five questions to ask during your next veterinary visit. For more from Dr. Ward, find him on Facebook or at

As a practicing veterinarian for over twenty years, I’ve learned a learned a few tricks to best help my pet patients stay healthy and avoid illness. There are five key areas I try to cover during each annual exam. To optimize your pet’s next routine appointment, I suggest you jot down your own version of these five simple questions. By preparing questions you want answered before you go, you’re less likely to forget them during the time crunch that hampers many visits.

1. What should I feed my pet?
The most important health decision you make each day for your pet is what you feed it. Even if you have no plans on changing food, have a conversation about nutrition with your vet. New research, diets, and your pet’s health vary over time. Let your vet know you’re interested in discussing your pet’s diet. For my patients, food is the foundation of good health. There’s simply no better source of pet nutritional information than an informed and interested veterinarian. Ask that question.

2. There’s this one thing my pet does that bugs me…
Seemingly insignificant behavioral issues can escalate into serious troubles in very little time. Today’s barking and whining can lead to tomorrow’s destroyed couch or injured neighbor. Don’t be embarrassed; the majority of pets I treat have at least one behavioral issue their owners would like to improve. Heck, I’m always working on my pets (and myself). There’s nothing too silly or trivial to bring up if it’s nagging you. Nipping problem behaviors in the bud can prevent future dangerous or destructive habits. Besides, I’d rather work on correcting minor issues instead of complex and deep-rooted problems.

3. Am I exercising my pet enough?
Along with feeding a healthy diet and maintaining good behavior, physical activity is key to a long and happy life. Tell your vet (truthfully) how much (or how little) you exercise your dog or cat. Your vet isn’t there to judge you; she’s there to help. As little as 15 to 30 minutes a day for dogs and two or three five-minute play periods for cats is all it takes.

4. Can you find anything wrong with my pet?
Don’t stop at “Everything looks good.” What about this little lump or that mole? Did the hips and shoulders feel normal? Is that dark spot on Rover’s rear normal? Details, people, details, that’s what I’m interested in. No three-minute physical examinations; it takes me about six to nine minutes to adequately investigate my patients from nose to tail. Make sure your vet records any tiny imperfections to track any changes next year. Today’s dark spot could be tomorrow’s melanoma. I hope not, but I want to know. And so do you. Early detection can be the difference between life and death.

5. What about issues we can’t see?
During an exam I’m limited by what you tell me, my experience, and our five senses. That leaves a lot of unknowns. That’s why I always advise my pet parents to have basic blood and urine tests each year. These tests are the only way I have to uncover hidden disease. You can’t “see” liver or kidney disease, anemia, or diabetes until things are very, very bad.

If you address these five questions, your pet is will be well on its way to maintaining optimal health. Write them down, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, and above all, have your pet examined at least once a year. After all, the real value of a doctor’s appointment is learning how to stay out of the hospital.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

10 Questions To Ask A Pet Owner

When you're a pet sitter meeting up with new clients and perhaps entering their home, it’s important to find out a few basic (and a few not so basic) things to ensure you all have a great pet sitting experience. Here are 10 questions I like to know the answer to before being left alone with a new petsitting charge, particularly in the client’s own home.

1 - How much and how often does the pet eat, go outside, go to the toilet?
Probably the most important ones! First you’ll need to know the pet’s basic daily routine. Find out if you’ll need to feed the pet, what food and how much. After feeding, you will need to know their toilet habits. Ensure you know where the pet uses the bathroom and how your client prefers to deal with the result!
Keeping up with the pet’s usual walk schedule is important too - remember to take your plastic bags. )

2 - How do you deal with good and bad behaviours?
All good pets deserve treats! Find out what commands the pet can follow and how to reward them. But you need to be prepared to deal if the pet misbehaves too - what does your client usually do? What do they think it is appropriate for you to do?

3 - What is the pet's behaviour like on a walk?
Sometimes the only way you can really find this out is through experience. Some dogs might act differently if there’s a different person on the end of the lead, but you can try and be prepared. How do they deal with loud noises, other animals, and people, and do you need to avoid those if there’s issues? Does the pet walk well on or off a lead? Can you trust them to come to you in an off-leash area? (Probably best to leave the dog on-leash if you’re not sure!)

4 - What are their favourite toys and games?
Playing is almost as important as food and water to a pet! They all have their own favourite things to do and ways to tell you what they want to do. Do they play rough or jump up when excited? (And if there’s an accidental nip during a frenzied game of tug, is there any antiseptic cream available for your poor finger?)

5 - What should you do in case of medical emergency?
This information should be readily available to any pet sitter. Where is their local/preferred vet? I recommend having the vet’s number close at hand - as a note on the fridge, or programmed into your phone.
Also - if the owner is going away for an extended period or will be out of contact range, it is very important to know what you need to do if the worst happens and you’re asked to make a choice to prevent an animal’s suffering. Sad to think about, but it can be a reality, so best to be prepared.

6 - What to do in case the pet gets out when they’re not supposed to?
Uh oh! Someone’s left the gate unlatched and puppy’s done a bolt. Does the pet come when called? Do they have a particular place they like to go when they get out, perhaps a neighbour’s yard? Does the pet try to sneak out in any way? It’s good to know so you can keep an eye on it. )

7 - Is there anything the pet is scared of or reacts to?
Loud noises can be terrifying for many animals. Storms, fireworks, nearby building works. Can you do anything to prevent these? Are there any comforting behaviours that you can adopt? Some dogs like to be wrapped in a blanket during a storm, for example.

8 - What to do if you need to clean up a mess?
Mess happens, whether it’s caused by a pet or by your own clumsy hands. Where are the cleaning implements kept? Make sure you know where the carpet cleaner is, just in case.

9 - Is there anything in the house that you need to be aware of?
Imagine the terror of accidentally locking yourself in the backyard while your pet charge is stuck inside! Ensure you’re aware of any little things such as a deadlock that can only open from inside, a sticking door, or even an alarm system that might auto-trigger or need to be disarmed as you enter the house.
Many clients may also invite you to help yourself to a cup of tea and a biscuit while you’re there, but make sure you know what supplies are actually on offer. When doing daycare in a client’s home, I make sure to bring my own lunch and snacks in any case so I’m not tempted by their half-empty packet of Tim-Tams. :)

10 - What should you do if you need to leave for any reason?
Sometimes your own emergencies might happen, or maybe you just need to pop to the shops quickly. Is the pet okay to be left for any period of time? If so, where? Who should you contact if you need to leave for longer? Perhaps a neighbour or a client’s relative could be a helpful contact, make sure you know who to notify if your client will be out of touch.

Of course there will be variations with every single pet and client and home, so it’s important to make sure you are prepared before each job. To help out, I’ve compiled a printable checklist for pet owners to fill out so that you, the pet sitter, can be super organised and informed before you even begin!

Best of luck, and happy pet sitting!

4 questions to ask before getting a new pet

(BPT) - One good thing about 2020? More people are fostering and adopting pets who need homes. And during the holidays, pet adoption increases even more because families have more time away from work and school.

Before you foster or adopt — and especially when considering a pet as a gift — it’s best to make sure you’re ready not just for the fun and companionship pets can bring, but also for the responsibilities. Preparing thoughtfully in advance will ensure you and your new pet are happy and comfortable at home.

“This year has been so unexpected, but one constant is that animals always bring positivity and comfort,” says veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder and CEO of Fear Free, in partnership with BISSELL. “If you’re preparing to adopt or foster a pet, it’s important to ease their transition into your home.”

Here are questions to ask before bringing a new furry friend home.

1. Does your living situation allow pets?

If you live in a rental, there are likely animal rules. Even if pets are allowed, additional fees might be added to help pay for possible damage or cleaning. Be sure to identify any such limitations before adopting or fostering a pet.

Also, make sure there's room for your pet to have their own space. “One immediate change you can make in your home is to create a dedicated space for your new pet with bedding, food, water and toys to help them feel safe,” recommends Becker.

2. Do you have everything you need?

With pets come supplies: food and dishes, toys, bedding, litter boxes (for cats), leashes (for dogs), plus cleaning supplies. Make sure you're prepared with enough funds to support the ongoing needs of your four-legged pal.

One crucial way to prepare your home for a new pet is to have effective cleaning tools on hand so you can spend less time cleaning and more time with your pet! Getting a BISSELL ® CrossWave ® Cordless Max multi-surface wet/dry vac is a great first step — it vacuums and washes sealed hard floors at the same time, making it easier and quicker to keep floors clean. Especially during this season, there are a variety of formulas you can use in this wet/dry vacuum that adapt to your cleaning needs, including sanitizing hard floors, cleaning your delicate wood floors, or cleaning multi-surfaces, like sealed hard floors and refreshing your area rugs.

The BISSELL ® CrossWave ® Cordless Max gives you cordless freedom, and its rechargeable battery provides up to 30 minutes of cleaning power, depending on mode and usage. The machine’s self-cleaning cycle cleans the brush roll after each use, so all you have to do is dump and rinse the dirty water tank.

BISSELL also proudly supports BISSELL Pet Foundation and its mission to help save homeless pets, and when you buy one of their products, you help save pets, too.

3. Will you have time to spend with your pet?

Now it may feel like you have plenty of time to take walks, play with pets and cuddle, especially while family members are working and learning at home. However, since we might not always be remote, it’s important to plan for changes in schedules down the road.

Will there be time in your family’s schedule in the future, so your pet will have all of their needs met — including companionship and attention? Consider adding special comfy beds or leaving a radio on to help your pet adjust to being home alone. Get them gradually used to being on their own by taking short outings without them — leading up to the time when family members need to return to the workplace.

4. Can you create a relationship with a veterinarian?

If you don’t already have a veterinarian in mind, start looking for one in your area. Ask pet-loving friends, neighbors and family for recommendations. Neighborhood social media groups often have great suggestions, too. Once you find a vet, call ahead to inquire about wellness visits, and establish a relationship so you’re prepared.

Becker offers tips during this time when vet offices are not allowing pet parents to enter with pets: “As you’re preparing for any of those first veterinarian appointments, I recommend bringing a comforting toy or blanket from home to help reduce anxiety.”

For help finding a vet, prepping for vet visits and other advice, visit

Spending time preparing now will create more time to relax and play with your new best friend later. Being a pet parent is a rewarding gift — especially now — because it offers opportunities to increase your capacity for responsibility, compassion and play. And if you’re fostering, you’ll have the special opportunity to prepare a pet for their future forever home.

Five Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian - pets

Going to the vet is an unavoidable part of being a pet owner. Whether it is taking your new puppy for their first check-up, checking why your cat might be limping or your pet’s annual vaccination, here are the questions you should be asking your vet in every consultation.

  • Am I feeding my pet the right amount?

Obesity is a common problem among pet owners. A biscuit here or leftover steak piece there, and suddenly your pet can become quite overweight. You could literally be killing your pet with kindness as being overweight can dramatically reduce a pet’s lifespan. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is important so when you get a check-up, make sure you ask your vet to check your pet’s body condition. The vet will advise you if you need to reduce your pet’s food intake and the best foods to feed them.

  • Should I be worried about this lump?

Lumps and bumps are a normal part of getting older but not all lumps are harmless. Cancerous tumours can form in any place on the body so you should be vigilant when checking your pet. Even though there are several harmless lumps like lipomas, skin tags and sebaceous cysts that can appear, if you ever find a lump, you should be getting it checked by a vet. Early detection can make all the difference.

  • How are my pet’s teeth?

As your pet isn’t able to use a toothbrush every day like humans do, their teeth can sometimes start to be neglected. Bad teeth can lead to other health problems and aren’t very pleasant for you either. Smelly breath, bleeding gums and brown teeth can signify a problem so it is important for your veterinary dental surgeon to check your dog’s mouth whenever they visit.

  • What kind of parasite protection do I need at this time of year?

Your dog or cat should be protected from fleas, ticks and worms all year-round however, the changing seasons mean their parasite protection needs can change. A temperature rise in spring spurs on the flea breeding season so you need to be extra vigilant. Summer is prime time for ticks so you should be using a monthly tick prevention as well as checking your pets regularly. You should also consider the type of prevention you use as a topical treatment might not suit a dog that spends a lot of time in the water. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best protection for your pet.

  • When does my pet need their next vaccination?

Regular yearly vaccinations play an important role in your pet’s health, protecting them from diseases that can cause severe illness or worse. Always ask your vet when your pet is next due for their yearly vaccination to ensure you stay on top of it. Your veterinarian will have this listed on your pet’s file.

Want to take your dog or cat to an experienced and affordable vet in Melbourne? South Eastern Animal Hospital is conveniently located in Clayton and can provide you with the best pet care for your dog or cat. Contact us to book your appointment today!

What does the surgery entail and how much experience do you have with this procedure?

Ask your vet what the surgery entails, so you'll know what to expect. Then inquire how much experience he has with the procedure. For complex surgeries, you may feel more comfortable choosing a vet with ample surgical experience.

See Our Collierville Veterinarian for Pet Surgery

To schedule a consultation for pet surgery in Collierville, Germantown, or Piperton, contact Collierville Animal Clinic at 901-853-8519. From preventative care to emergency pet care situations like toxic ingestion, we’re here to meet all your veterinary care needs.

Watch the video: Important Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian (October 2021).