Ten Steps to a Successful Veterinarian Visit for Skin Problems

Vet examining cat

The cause of skin problems can be a bit of a mystery, and you and your veterinarian will have to work together to solve it. Your veterinarian is the detective, but you hold many important clues because no one knows your pet like you do.

Your veterinarian will rely on you to provide information that will help him or her rule out possible causes of skin conditions and determine an accurate diagnosis. Whether you're seeing a new veterinarian for the first time or your family veterinarian, here are 10 steps to help you prepare for a successful visit:

Step 1. Recap Your Pet’s History

Get more out of your clinic visit by organizing your pet’s medical history in a single document. Include vaccination information, a recap of any ongoing health issues or significant past health issues, and an account of your pet’s recent bathroom schedule, weight changes, and signs you think are unusual. Note if there other pets in the household and if they have skin problems. Your veterinarian may also ask about your pet’s schedule and if your pet has traveled. If you know any health-related information about your dog or cat’s littermates or parents, also share that.

Step 2. Describe Your Pet’s Exercise Routine

Let the veterinarian know when and how much your pet exercises. Also indicate if the exercise routine has changed. Be honest. If your pet is a couch potato, say so.

Step 3. Know Your Pet’s Diet

When you talk to your vet, know exactly which brand of pet food you use, as well as how much and how often. Come clean about treats and table scraps. Also, pay attention to your pet’s water bowl. Changes in drinking habits can be an important sign.

Step 4. Be Aware of Your Pet’s Exposure to Other Animals

A romp in the dog park, a trip to the groomers, a night at the kennel and a Houdini-esque escape to the great outdoors are all opportunities for pets to come into contact with other pets and wildlife. From a health perspective, that can broaden the list of suspects when it comes to infection and skin conditions. Be prepared for questions about where your pet has been—and when.

Step 5. Keep Tabs on Your Furry Friend’s Environment

Environmental allergies, also called contact allergies, can often cause skin problems. Let your veterinarian know about how much time your pet spends outdoors, the type of environment (field, mowed yard, patio, forest, etc.), as well as factors such as pesticides and fertilizers.

Step 6. Record Any Behavior Changes

Have you noticed any significant changes in your pet’s behavior? Has your pet been withdrawn, aggressive, irritable, barking, jumping or chewing? Note if your pet seems more or less energetic. Make a note about how often your pet is scratching and when. This information can be helpful to your vet.

Step 7. Collect Information About Medications and Supplements

Your veterinarian will need to know about any medications your pet is taking or has recently taken. This includes the medication name, strength and dosage. Also include information about any supplements, medicated shampoos or therapies—even if they require no prescription. If you’re not sure, put it all in a bag and take it with you, or take a picture of each item with your phone.

Step 8. Think About Your Questions in Advance

During a veterinarian visit, pet owners can often become distracted by their dog or cat’s stress level or behavior and forget the questions they want to ask. Write your questions down before you go, so you can refer to them during your visit.

Step 9. Provide Contact Information for Previous Veterinarians

If your pet has changed veterinarians because of a move or has seen another veterinarian, be sure to include contact information. Your current veterinarian may want to call your previous veterinarian for prior lab results and other information.

Step 10. Take Important Items With You

Traveling to the veterinarian with a pet isn’t easy. Before you snap on the leash or load up the carrier, make sure you’ve packed up the information you’ve organized: copies of any medical records, current or recent medications and supplements, a fresh stool sample, and any pet insurance information.

For a comprehensive checklist as well as detailed information about common skin conditions and treatments, visit MyPetItches.com.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: CONVENIA is not for use in dogs or cats with a history of allergic reactions to penicillins or cephalosporins. Similar to the other cephalosporins, side effects for both dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite/anorexia and lethargy. The safety of CONVENIA has not been determined in lactating or breeding animals. Click here for full prescribing information.