Taking care of your pet will invariably involve a visit to the vet, whether for routine check-up or to diagnose and treat some ailment your pet has. Just like treatment for humans, you may not always be able to provide the best treatment/care options suggested for your pet, and you therefore need to be armed with all of the facts to make the best decisions for you and your pet. The following questions can help you to get the most out of your veterinarian's extensive knowledge of animal care.
1. Is the test completely necessary?
On occasion, your pet may be suffering from a terminal illness/condition. You may be asked to carry out a test to find out the progression of the condition and hence determine how long your pet has to live. It's important to know that such tests won't affect the initial assessment or treatment options. You can elect to have the tests done if you can afford them, but ensure you understand the full impact of any test or procedure to avoid disillusionment once you've poured resources in but have failed to improve the outcome.
2. What can I do now?
Like other medical practitioners, sometimes your vet can heap loads of information on you, without actually telling you what you can do with it. It's good to have information, but even more important to understand what that information means for you. Do not be afraid to ask the vet to water down any details to actionable steps/plans so that you know exactly how to proceed.
3. Do I have more options?
The vet will use his/her knowledge to recommend what they think to be the best treatment/care plan for your pet, but this is often one among a number of options. Do not be afraid to ask what other options there are, particularly if you have limited funds. Get into the details of the advantages and disadvantages of each option so that you're empowered to make the best call. If your vet seems to be getting agitated or impatient, move on to another vet.
4. How would you treat your pet?
Even with all information, it can be hard to make a decision regarding your pet's health plan. In such cases, it may be enlightening to know what, given their wealth of knowledge and experience, the vet would do if their own pet were in a similar position while understanding your own limitations and opportunities. Not every vet will be comfortable answering this question, because it may be construed as exerting undue influence on your decisions. However, if you find one who is willing, their insight can be invaluable in helping you make the best decisions.