I never walk into a vet’s office without a notebook in which I’ve jotted down questions and a pen so that I can take notes on the answers. Part of this habit is due to my many years as a journalist but most of it comes from the experience of caring for a senior dog. In Daley’s elderly years, when “Quality Of Life” was always at the top of my list, questions were most definitely required to help me figure out which direction I should take with his care.
Often times I’ll just write down key words that I can refer to during the appointment. (At right is the list of topics I discussed with Mason’s local veterinarian when I took him in recently for an introductory check-up.)
No matter the reason you and your dog are at the veterinarian’s office, it’s an environment that is full of distractions. Even if your dog has mellowed with age and doesn’t mind that the puppy next to him in the waiting room keeps punching him in the head, the rush of interactions that comes with a visit can clog your ability to process information and your presence of mind to ask about a particular issue — especially if discoveries during an exam suddenly mean a whole new treatment plan.
Another important reason to make sure you ask any questions you have or share observations you’ve made about your dog’s health is that you know your dog best. His vet only sees him for short periods of time in a specific setting so your perspective can help your dog’s vet evaluate his health.
Recently, Dr. Nancy Kay added another important reason to have back-up for your focus during a vet visit. In a post for her Speaking For Spot’s Blog titled “Does Your Veterinarian Hear Your Concerns?” Dr. Kay reveals some startling statistics from a communication study that determined “what percentage of veterinarians evaluated effectively solicited their clients’ concerns at the beginning of the office visit.” The study included 20 veterinarians in 334 videotaped interactions with clients.
I highly recommend that you read Dr. Kay’s post but I must highlight these study findings on “opening statements,” which is your response to the vet’s question of why you’ve brought your dog in for a visit.
- “Clients’ opening statements in response to the solicitation were interrupted by the veterinarian 55% of the time, on average after only 11 seconds!
- Following an interruption, clients returned to and completed their response only 28% of the time.”
Read “Does Your Veterinarian Hear Your Concerns” here.