As we come to the end of 2021, many people are aware of the current crisis in the veterinary world. More pets and fewer vets mean that your local veterinary practice is likely to be under more pressure than ever. So what can you as a pet owner do to be a good veterinary client and get the best from your vet?

1. Be a regular

Get to know the staff at your practice, and let them get to know you and your pet. If your pet is allowed to become familiar with the people and building they will find visits less stressful, and it means the practice can offer you a more tailored service. To help build this bond try and avoid frequently swapping between different practices. 

Regularly changing between different places makes it much harder for your vet. It’s harder to keep track of your pet’s full medical history and which medications they have been given or have reacted to. 

2. Prevention is better than cure

Play an active part in keeping your pet as healthy as possible. This means undertaking regular preventive measures such as wellness check ups, parasite treatments and vaccinations. Feed the best quality diet you can afford for your pet. And monitor their waistlines to help them maintain an ideal weight. Be aware of common poisons and avoid unnecessary risks such as letting cats out at night, throwing sticks for dogs or exercising them in hot weather.

3. Plan ahead

Make sure you are aware of your practice’s opening times and try to book appointments well in advance wherever possible. If your animal is very unwell and you think they might need to stay in or have tests such as x-rays, blood tests, or even surgery, this is often more difficult in the evenings or at weekends when less staff may be available and laboratories may not be open. If you are not sure it is always better to contact the surgery for guidance and follow their advice wherever possible. 

4. Take responsibility for your pets’ healthcare costs

Costs are increasing in all areas of our lives and this is also true of veterinary medicine. Increased expenses involved in running a practice, combined with a greater complexity of healthcare and client expectations, mean that veterinary care is getting more expensive. If you choose to have a pet, do your best to ensure you have the means to pay for their healthcare whether that means taking out insurance or having a pot of savings put by.

5. Educate yourself about what to do in an emergency

Find out what you should do if your pet becomes suddenly ill or is injured. Know how to contact your local practice and have a plan for how you will transport your pet to the surgery. Be aware of how you can access care out of normal practice hours, and have an idea of where you may need to travel to. 

6. Use your appointments wisely

Wherever possible try and attend the appointment for your pet in person. Minimise any distractions such as mobile phones or multiple family members. If you can’t be at the appointment yourself, ensure whoever is can answer any questions the vet might have. And has your authority to give the go ahead to any treatments or procedures your pet might require. 

7. Follow good veterinary practice etiquette.

Turn up in good time for your appointment and let reception know when you have arrived. During COVID many practices have set protocols for what you should do on arrival at the practice. So make sure you are aware of these and follow their recommendations. Always have your pet in a secure carrier or on a secure lead so that there is no risk of them escaping. 

8. Tell your vet if your pet can be tricky

Let the vet know if your pet is particularly frightened, in pain or may show signs of aggression. If they need a muzzle try and get them used to this at home, and have your pet ready and wearing it before they are taken in for their appointment. You may also like to ask about medications you can give, prior to your appointment, that may help your pet feel less anxious and more relaxed.

9. Pay your bill on time

Practices cannot operate without an income and rely on owners paying their bills on time. If you have concerns about costs, always discuss these with the practice staff and they will do their best to find a solution. Most practices will provide an estimate of costs before big procedures but if they don’t, never be afraid to ask. If you think the bill is not correct always try and bring this up at the time when it is likely to be easier to sort out. 

10. If you aren’t happy talk to your practice

Most practices want to do their best for clients and pets. If you aren’t happy with something then discuss this with the practice and give them the opportunity to sort things out. Avoid heading straight for social media to voice your concerns, remember veterinary staff are real people doing their best, often under very difficult circumstances. If you do not feel your practice have resolved the problem, or your concerns are more serious then use the correct channels to further your complaint.

Most vets and veterinary staff are in their profession because they genuinely want to help pets and their owners, to the best of their abilities.  By observing some common sense guidelines you can help them to do this and offer you and your animals the best possible service.

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