Taking your pet to the Vet can be a traumatic event for you, your pet, and your bank balance. Does he really need to go, have I waited too long, will it hurt, and how much is this going to cost me, are all questions that we face when a pet is ailing.
There's no one answer for these questions, but I can give you some hints that will help.
First, shop around for a vet. The day you bring your pet home is not too soon to be looking for a vet. Ask around, people that have pets will tell you all about their Vet and be happy to do so. The yellow pages list Vets and a phone call can help a lot. Ask what the prices are for some standard treatments such as having teeth cleaned, shots, worm checks and neutering and spaying. Ask about the Vet's after office hours policies.
The first trip to the vet should be for a checkup and general physical. This should be done as soon as you bring your new pet home. In this way you can make sure your new dog or cat is healthy and let the Vet get a base line on your pet. A base line is knowing what is normal for this particular animal. If you have a shy beagle or a bouncy Basset it's best for the vet to know ahead of time so he doesn't think this is wrong for your pet. Also it gives you and your pet a chance to get to know the Vet when things are a bit calmer than in an emergency. Not to mention this is your last chance to make sure that your new dog or cat is healthy! In addition you vet can sometimes see health problems that may occur in the future, like retained puppy teeth, eyelid problems, and such. For warned is for armed. And you can take this opportunity to set up a schedule for shots, neutering and worming.
The first trip should also be a happy time for your pet. Remember if you act happy and comfortable at the Vets so will your pet. Take along a pocket full of his or her favorite goodies and don't forget a stop at a hamburger stand or an ice-cream shop on the way home. Nothing makes my crew happier than a trip to the vet, it means GOODIES!
Now, dealing with the up planed trip to the vet. Keep a thermometer for you pet and get used to taking their temperature. If you are a little concerned about their health a normal temperature can help relieve worries. In the case of injuries the same rules that would apply to yourself are what you should use for your pet. If you'd go to the Doctor, take him to the Vet! Limping? See if the limb is sore to the touch and is the animal eating all right. If he seems to be in a lot of pain or isn't eating, go to the Vet. If it's minor and he's eating like a house on fire, wait a day, it's probably nothing more than a sprain or bruise. In any case if he keeps limping for more that 2 days go to the vet. Our pets can't tell us what's wrong, so we have to pay attention. Most conditions, if treated promptly, can be cured quickly and for a lot less money than if you let it go a while.
Another way to save money and your Vets time is to write down exactly what you've observed, what made you think that your pet needed to go to the Vet. Sometimes, in the stress of the office it's hard to explain exactly what you've seen. Your vet will be thankful for the input and can better decide what's wrong if he knows what's been happening at home.
Sometimes it's not necessary to take the whole pet in! If you know you need to worm, you've seen the sign in the stool, all you need to bring in is a stool sample. Just be sure that you have a recent and accurate weight on your pet. Most shots, Distemper and so on can be given at home. You can order the vaccine from one of several catalogs and have it mailed right to your door. Since most such shots are given subcu, (just under the skin) it's easy to do it yourself. I've given many a puppy his or her shots and had them keep on eating while I did it.
Pull up a loose flap of skin, I always use the loose skin over the shoulders, swab with alcohol, and jab away. Just make sure you go all the way through the skin, you can make a nasty sore if you inject into the skin it's self.
Most states require that rabies shots are given by a Vet, and I don't argue about that. Rabies is too dangerous to mess around with. Some people would claim their pet had a rabies shot when they didn't. I know none of you would do that, but there are people in this world that world. Not to mention it's a good time for your pet to get a quick check up. So many things come on so slowly that you, as the owner, seeing your pet everyday would miss.
If you follow these simple guidelines you and your pet and your vet can live together a lot happier and spend less money
Ruth is a Professional Kennel Master, (she takes over kennels when the owners want to leave town for a while) for 20 years. She's also a K9 behaviorist and has testified in court both for and against dog owners. She works with problem dogs and does advanced personal protection training. She has 4 cats, one of which is leash trained and is certified as a veterinary EMT both small and large animals.
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