30 Questions Your Dog’s Vet Wishes You’d Ask
Everybody wants their four-legged friend to live a long, healthy and happy life. Preventative care and having a good relationship with your dog’s vet is an important part of making sure Fido always feels his best and that you do all you can to prevent problems with his health.
Your vet wants the best for your furry buddy, too, but they can’t know what’s going on with your pet if you don’t tell them. Plus, there are some symptoms a vet can’t see in their office. It’s up to you to report what’s going on with your animal and to have an open dialogue with your vet. Once you’ve made the appointment, driven to the vet's office and paid the exam fee, you may as well make the most of your visit.
Here are 30 questions every pet owner should ask their veterinarian.
What is a healthy weight for my dog?
Like in humans, weight issues in animals can lead to other health concerns. Excess weight puts pets at an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and even certain types of cancer. Since dogs walk on all fours, excess weight can also be difficult on their joints and make arthritis worse.
Keep in mind that, in small dogs, just a few extra pounds can be a reason for concern. You think Fido looks cute at any size — of course — but it is important for a dog’s longevity to stay at a healthy weight.
What are the signs of allergies?
Dogs can suffer from allergies to food, grass and even irritants in the air or in your home. When allergies strike, dogs won’t always sneeze and get runny eyes the way humans do.
Their allergies might manifest through excess itching, patchy skin or even digestive issues. Ask your vet about symptoms of allergies and what common irritants might be.
Is this breed prone to any conditions?
Even though all dogs are in the canine family, each breed varies vastly from one another — both in traits you can see and traits you can’t. Each respective dog breed has one if not several conditions to which they are more prone than others.
Knowing what these are for your dog can help you know which symptoms to look for and what preventative measures to take.
What do you suggest I feed my dog?
Between raw, grain-free, refrigerated, canned, meat-based, fish-based and more, there are so many options when it comes to dog food today. There is also a lot of information out there about which food is “best” for a dog. Some of that information is true, and some is not.
Your vet can give you recommendations for the best food for your dog based on their age, breed, dietary needs and more. They can also shine a light on some of the information you’ve been hearing about dog food trends.
Which vaccines should I know about?
There are certain vaccines most dog owners are familiar with, like rabies and Bordetella. However, new diseases threaten the canine community all of the time.
Your vet can tell you about each vaccine your pup needs and get you on a schedule to make sure they’re up to date.
How often should I be booking an appointment for my dog?
Depending on your pet’s medical history and age, your vet might want to see your furry friend anywhere from once every couple of years to several times a year. Remember that dogs don’t live nearly as long as humans.
Skipping just one vet visit creates an opportunity for issues to develop with your pet that your vet could observe and treat if you keep up with scheduled exams.
Do you offer wellness plans?
Between vaccines, teeth cleanings, heartworm and flea prevention and regular exams, your pet requires a lot of medical care every year — even when nothing goes wrong. Staying on top of these preventative measures reduces the chances that your dog deals with more serious conditions down the line. However, even general wellness care is expensive.
Ask your vet if their office provides wellness plans. Some offer plans for as little as $40 a month that would cover most or all of the costs associated with things like vaccines, flea treatment and physicals.
Is there anything going around?
It only takes a second for your dog to lick, eat or step in something that could cause them harm. If they spend time with other dogs, then they could pick up contagious viruses.
Just like with people, dogs can have a sickness that’s going around. Your vet will be privy to what’s plaguing the canine community right now because they’re likely seeing many cases walking through their door.
Is this behavior normal?
Everything your furry friend does is adorable, but is it “normal?” Of course, when we talk about normal, we simply mean, “Is this healthy?”
You could think it’s hilarious that your dog runs into things or wobbles a bit. But these behaviors could actually be symptoms of a health issue. If your dog does anything that appears out of the ordinary, just ask your vet about it.
Are there exams I can perform at home?
In the same way there are self-exams humans can perform like breast or skin checks, there are exams you can perform on your dog.
Ask your vet if there are routine exams you can perform on your dog to check for things like lumps and bumps.
How much should my pet exercise?
Every breed of dog and age of dog needs a different level of exercise. What’s considered a thorough workout routine for a Chihuahua would likely be deemed an inactive lifestyle for a labrador. You don’t want to accidentally overexercise a pet either.
Ask your vet what level of activity is right for your canine. Experts say exercising regularly with your dog can prevent issues like obesity, enhance the human-dog bond and even improve Fido’s mental health.
What are the current recommended preventative treatments?
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The quote couldn’t be truer for pets. One monthly heartworm pill is affordable and painless. Skipping it can lead to life-threatening heartworms that are painful and expensive to treat.
Ask your vet what preventative medications your pet should be taking.
Do you recommend any supplements?
Your dog might not need the myriad trendy supplements that humans take, but there are supplements that can help your dog’s joints, contribute to good vision and more.
Your vet can recommend quality and reputable supplements for a canine.
Is there a more affordable option?
This is a question you can always ask, no matter the situation. Some vets will inherently explain multiple care options for multiple budgets when an issue arises. Others jump straight to the most invasive and most expensive option.
Don’t assume that what your vet is recommending is the only choice you have. Always ask if there are more affordable choices.
How do my dog’s teeth look?
Your dog’s teeth and gums give your vet some insight into your pet’s overall health. A healthy mouth is the foundation of a healthy body. Problems such as gum disease or dead teeth can lead to other health issues for dogs.
In fact, periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in dogs, affecting at least 80 percent of dogs over three years of age. Ask your vet if your dog’s teeth and gums look healthy.
Which treats are good?
Like with food, there are countless treat options on the market. However, not all dog treats are made equal. Some contain additives or fillers that are known to cause health issues in pets. Others are loaded with calories and fat.
Ask your vet which treats you can give Fido and which ones to avoid.
Are these lumps/bumps normal?
Over time, dogs develop lumps and bumps. In a human, a lump that shows up suddenly can be cause for major concern. That’s not always the case for dogs. They often develop cysts or benign tumors that are nothing to worry about.
In fact, between 60 to 80 percent of skin tumors in dogs are benign. But it’s always good to show your vet your dog’s lumps and bumps, so they can assess them.
What do we look out for at this age?
Because dogs have short lifespans, they enter a new phase of life nearly every year to every few years. It can be shocking to hear a vet say that your 8-year-old fur baby is a “senior.”
But it is important to embrace your dog’s phase of life and ask your vet what specific issues to look out for and what preventative measures can be taken.
Do I need insurance?
The short answer is yes. In general, it’s better to have insurance than not — for all things in life. However, dog insurance might not be in your budget.
Have an honest talk with your vet about your dog’s risks and whether or not getting insurance is essential at this point in Fido’s life.
Do you offer payment plans?
Even if your dog does have insurance, there is still the matter of co-pays and deductibles. A 10 percent co-pay on a $5,000 procedure is still $500.
It’s good to know if your vet offers payment plans, so you can make payments over time.
What are high-risk environments for ticks and other pests?
If your dog loves to go on long hikes through the woods with you or roll around on sandy beaches, they could be susceptible to ticks and other critters that pose a risk to your pet’s health.
Let your vet know which environments your dog spends time in and what to be aware of.
My dog plays with other dogs. What should I be aware of?
Maybe your furry friend has lots of furry friends. If your dog spends a lot of time with other dogs like at the dog park or daycare, they might be exposed to some risks that anti-social dogs who stay home are not.
There are many viruses that get passed around in group dog settings, including airborne, oral and direction transmission. Ask your vet what these might be.
What is a normal poop?
It’s a good idea to have your vet do regular fecal tests on your pet to check for chronic conditions and parasites.
Taking a look at your pet’s poop can also help your vet determine if your dog is eating the right food, getting enough water and other important pieces of information.
How much water should they drink?
A hydrated dog is a healthy dog, but dogs shouldn’t be lapping up all of the water in their bowl every 15 minutes. Over-drinking can be a sign of certain health conditions.
Your vet can tell you how much water your dog needs for their breed, age and activity level.
What are concerning symptoms?
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with symptoms that should trigger an immediate visit to the vet — or even the emergency pet hospital.
Your vet can explain to you what to look for and when it’s time to seek immediate medical assistance.
Have there been any recalls on pet products?
There are frequent recalls on pet food, pet treats, pet beds, pet toys and many other pet products. Some edible products suffer from contaminated batches. Some toys prove to be hazardous.
Ask your vet to keep you up to date on recalls.
How do I take care of oral hygiene at home?
Your vet will likely recommend that your dog come in for regular professional teeth cleanings to handle tartar and plaque buildup. There are also things you can do at home like brushing your dog’s teeth or giving certain teeth-cleaning toys.
Your vet can recommend the best at-home oral care routine.
What should I do if you aren’t open?
Make an emergency plan with your vet for what to do if something comes up and your regular vet isn’t available.
They might have a colleague who you can call on off hours. They can also recommend the best emergency pet hospitals.
Do you have any feedback for me as a dog owner?
There might be certain things your vet has noticed you do as a dog owner that they’re hesitant to bring up. Dog owners can be sensitive, after all.
Your dog’s health should take priority over your pride. Give your vet freedom to give you honest feedback about how you’re doing as a dog owner.
Can you put all of this in writing?
You likely won’t remember everything your vet says. From supplement recommendations to recalls to your dog’s next required vaccine, there’s a lot to take in.
Most vets are happy to do a write-up of everything discussed in your visit and send that to you in an email.