Today I’d like to talk a bit about being proactive at the vet. Back in my younger days, I thought of my cats’ vet as the God of a healthy pet. Not anymore. Let me explain.
First of all, vets may obtain a degree showing they know what to do under just about any circumstances you can conjure up. This doesn’t mean the vet stays up to date with changes in the veterinary world. A typical vet is open from as early as 7 a.m. until at least 5 p.m. Many are open later, to provide service for people who work. Practices that double as 24-hour emergency clinics are even more stressed to stay updated. If a vet spends the day treating animals, grabbing something quick for lunch, then working until sundown, there’s not much time in between for updating skills. I seriously doubt a vet will study at home each night. Family time likely takes priority.
We, as cat owners, tend to study cats on a daily basis. And I think it’s safe to say the older we get the more we learn. Both from hands-on experience or from online studying. I’ve found changes are constantly occurring in the world of pets. Drugs that were once considered safe may be judged unsafe. Formulas change, adding ingredients to the ‘new and improved’ that now can harm out cat. Diarrhea medication comes to mind. Kaopectate was once suggested, but with an ingredient called attapulgite, is now dangerous. What if your vet doesn’t realize the change in formula, and suggests it for your cat? Pain medication and antibiotics are also a concern, as Michael and Ruth have covered many times (recent example).
So what’s a cat owner to do? We study. We look up the symptoms our cat is experiencing, and we learn what we need to tell the vet on a visit. I have a bad habit (or is it a GOOD habit) of looking up any drug the vet prescribes on my cell phone while I’m standing in the examination room. If there are a lot of bad experiences online from a credible source, I’m not afraid to mention that to my vet. The way I see it, we work as a team. It’s not beneficial to anyone for him to do something out of ignorance to harm my cat. If the instruction label says “dog only,” I look it up to see if the drug is safe for cats. Many times it is, but I want to be sure. I also remember what drugs have been safe in the past, and periodically Google them when I’m sleep-texting at 5 a.m.
Since many of us are older cat owners, it’s our responsibility to teach the young or first time cat owners not to be afraid to speak up and ask questions at the vet. Don’t be afraid to do this. You’re paying for a service, and your vet wants you for repeat business. It’s beneficial to everyone if you’re not afraid to ask questions, or question something you’re not sure of. In the end, your cat will thank you, and even the vet may thank you for bringing something new to his/her attention.
How are you proactive at the vet? Am I being a concerned cat owner, or just a nag? Please leave a comment below.