By Dr. Margaret Meier, DVM, CVSMT
Now for most of us this phrase brings to mind one of the most famous cartoon characters of all time, Bugs Bunny, right? We can hear the crunching of his carrot and see his pearly white teeth as he chews in the ear of the once-again-duped Elmer P. Fudd or other Looney Tunes characters like Daffy Duck. For me, however, these words come from my clients as they seek to learn why their beloved companion isn’t in tip-top shape today. In their voice I hear the concern and consternation of not knowing how to help their pet feel better, rather than the sassy sarcasm of Bugs Bunny; and they are looking to me to help “catch that rascally rabbit” of disease that ails their companion. This is where I look to you, the client, for some key elements in the puzzle, and we will work together to resolve the disease in your companion. So today I’d like to share with you five key things to help you help me return your four-legged companion back to feeling his or her best.
When making the appointment for the visit, ask if a stool or urine specimen may be required of your animal, or if fasting is necessary for a blood test. Having this knowledge ahead of the visit can help you be more prepared at the time of the visit. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to collect a specimen prior to the visit. If one may be requested, however, be certain to prevent Fido from emptying his bladder on the walk into the clinic. I’m sure we can all think of a time we emptied our bladders before a doctor visit only to learn we now have to fill the cup. If Fido happens to have a bowel movement outside the clinic, be able to direct one of the staff members to its location—they will be glad to retrieve it for you.
Review with all members of the household when they recall the last time they saw your pet eating and acting normally. What is your pet’s regular diet? Did you recently switch foods? Did the manufacturer recently change the formula of the food? Is it “new and improved”? Did you recently come home to mass destruction of the garbage can? Has there been a change in the household membership? Is there perhaps a pattern that seems to be occurring? For example, I recently had a client come in with the concern of intermittent vomiting in their Labrador retriever. Upon review, we discovered that the problem always seemed to occur approximately two hours after eating a particular treat, which helped us develop a course of therapy.
- Bring along all supplements and medications your pet is currently taking, including essential oils. You don’t necessarily need to bring the containers the products come in, but a list of these products can help determine if there may be medication interactions or contraindications of a possible prescription your veterinarian may be considering for the problem at hand. Also, if your pet has recently been to visit another provider, such as a massage therapist, a copy of the work they performed can also provide key insights to the problem at hand.
- Don’t be afraid to bring your own list of questions and concerns. As the daughter of a teacher, and a teacher myself, I can never emphasize enough that the only “silly” question is the one left unasked. During the appointment there can be many things that cause distractions that prevent you from asking these questions. Having them written down can help us both be certain these questions and concerns are adequately addressed.
- Be able to safely restrain your pet in the waiting area with other pets of various reputations. Cats are best kept in a carrier but, if you’re in a pinch, I’ve seen laundry hampers and cotton pillow cases work as well. With your dog, keep the flexi-lead locked at a short distance suchas four to six feet or use a short, fixed leash. If neither ofthese is an option for your canine companion, consider an old belt, a purse handle, or use this opportunity to be creative. These restraining devices not only help keep you and your pet comfortable while you wait, they also serve to help keep your pet safe during the car ride to and from the clinic.
- Providing the best veterinary care to your four-legged companion is definitely a team efort between you and your veterinarian. You know your pet better than anyone else, and your insights and intuitions on their recent behavior can help your veterinarian determine the solution to the problem at hand. Scheduling regular wellness visits with your veterinarian can also insure that your pet lives a much longer and healthier life. With one generic dog year equal to seven people years, it is recommended that your pet receive a wellness exam every six months to be screened for dental disease, heart disease, and other hidden health problems only your veterinarian may be able to detect. This bi-annual approach has also been demonstrated to save you substantial money on the lifetime cost of care for your companion.
Dr. Margaret is the owner of Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley in Mondovi and an adjunct instructor at Globe University in the Veterinary Technology department. Dr. Margaret is a certified member of both the American and International Veterinary Chiropractic Associations and is Reiki attuned. She lives on her family’s century farm with her daughter, Emilia, and their menagerie of four-legged companions.