For most pet owners, pets aren’t just dogs, cats, iguanas and parrots— they are family members. Finding a veterinary assistant or technician in the exam room instead of a fully licensed vet can make some pet parents a little uneasy.
However, the doctor relies on trained professionals to provide superior care to their patients. Veterinary technicians and technologists are similar to nurses in a medical office and are qualified to perform many of the duties the doctor provides to animal clients.
Asking questions is one way for pet owners to build a rapport with the veterinarian and the office staff. The five questions below will help you gain confidence and be a better caregiver for your furry and feathered loved ones.
1. Are you licensed?
Don’t be embarrassed to ask. If you feel uncomfortable, just ask, “Where was your vet tech program completed?” If he or she hesitates or hem-haws around, ask to see the veterinarian instead. Most states require a 2- or 4-year degree or certification and licensure, according to Vet Tech Guide.
2. How can I help my dog lead a healthier life?
Numerous studies indicate pets have positive health benefits for humans. More than 50 percent of dog owners get their daily requirement of exercise, which contributes to lower blood pressure, reduces stress and often keeps obesity at bay. The question is, are humans good for their pets?
By providing nutritious food, a comfortable climate and plenty of exercise, and by making sure your pet has an annual exam, you are contributing to their better health. Find out other ways you can prevent against ailments, such as brushing your pet’s teeth or giving regular heartworm medicine.
3. Are those tests necessary?
Cat owners might notice the vet has ordered an unusual number of tests when the cat seems to be perfectly healthy. Living with a pet every day makes it easier to miss weight changes, especially in older cats. When your tech tells you the doctor ordered an indirect fundus examination, a Schirmer tear test and both blood and urine testing, it sounds ominous.
These tests are to rule out problems that could indicate everything from gingivitis (gum disease) to hyperglycemia (low blood sugar), which leads to the next question.
4. Is this routine, or is something wrong?
In a 2013 study, more than 70 percent of 100 cats in apparently good health tested positive for at least one of 11 disorders, ranging from high blood pressure to increased creatinine (an indication of kidney function) in the urine. The tech should be able to tell you if tests are preventative, or if some indication, such as weight loss or gum condition, warrants additional testing.
5. Can you spell that, please?
Sometimes, trained professionals forget pet parents don’t understand the jargon. If your vet technician says something you don’t understand, ask them to repeat it or, better yet, write it down. You can ask for take-home literature that explains illnesses or surgical procedures in detail.
What advice do you have for pet parents attending vet exams? Share your tips on what to look out for in the comments.