Get the Most Out of Your Vet Visit: 5 Hard Questions You Should Ask

4. What are the benefits and drawbacks of each option?

Medical plans are a bit like phones: There is a seemingly infinite number of them, and they each offer a different quality level and features at different prices. If the phone salesperson showed you three phones, wouldn’t you want to understand the differences among them?

Likewise, you shouldn’t feel shy about asking your veterinarian to tell you the pros and cons of each option presented, because that’s how you will make a decision. This question is particularly important if your money is limited, because it may help you conserve dollars to use later for things that will really impact your pet’s quality of life or eventual outcome. Balance the benefits and drawbacks of each option, and then make the best choice for you and your pet.

5. What would you do if this were your pet?

Finally, your veterinarian has a wealth of medical knowledge and experience that you don’t have. It can be enlightening to know how a veterinarian would react to a situation if he were in your shoes. I feel it’s our job to be honest with our clients and to be true health care advisers and provide any and all information that we have. It’s important, on the other hand, to remember that your veterinarian is not you and may not have the same limitations. For example, veterinarians often don’t have the same financial considerations because they are able to perform many procedures or handle complicated home care requirements themselves. Some of those options may not be practical for the typical owner.

Realize that, given everything I have told you, some veterinarians are uncomfortable answering this question. That’s because they fear that if they answer it, it will seem that they are “dictating” a certain course of action to you or, at the very least, unduly influencing your decisions. If you experience reluctance from your veterinarian to answer this question, know that it is probably rooted in a desire to pursue the course of action that is right for you, not the one that is right for your veterinarian.

It All Comes Down to Your Preference

The bottom line is to listen to your vet's recommendations and then make your own decision based on your own situation.

These five questions will likely take some effort on your veterinarian’s part to answer. That’s fine — the questions aren’t simple, and the answers may not be either. But when you have a pet care decision to make, empower yourself to make that decision a fully informed one.

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