Ask the Vet | 10 Things You SHOULD Do at Your Veterinarian’s Office

Online vet, Dr. Laci, discusses the 10 things you should do at your veterinary clinic

Online vet Dr. Laci discusses vet office etiquette

Educated Owners make Happy Happy Dogs

In an ideal world, everyone would get the same treatment, but as we all know, we don’t live in an ideal world, and as humans, our emotions often have a way of influencing us, even as professionals.  The following list is composed to not only help you have a successful visit to the vet, but also to help cultivate a relationship that is beneficial to your pet.

10. Do call before you show up. If you just show up as a walk-in, you will likely have quite a wait ahead of you. Even if you have a sick dog, sick cat, or sick pet and are in your car driving there, calling ahead is courteous and helps us better prepare and rearrange our schedule if necessary.

9. If your veterinarian offers you to take a peek in the “back” or wants to show you something under the microscope, go ahead! Unless you are squeamish or get sick easily, this is a great way to form a bond with your veterinarian and get on his/her list of interactive (read: good) clients. We really appreciate this; all too often we are talking in front of detached owners that are texting. Plus you will likely learn something interesting, and feel more comfortable seeing where your pet is kept when you aren’t there.

8. Do ask a technician or assistant about fees. It is completely money coins bills representing discount vet care
acceptable to ask about charges before you grant your permission to proceed.
Just know, it is usually the vet that has to make up a treatment plan, so you may not be able to talk money until the vet has done a physical exam and talked with you about the reason for your visit. Please don’t try to bargain with the staff, but we do understand that not every client can afford to the Cadillac of treatments. Still it is our job to offer it.

7. Do read up, or Google up before or after your appointment. The Internet is a wonderful resource for clients (so is VetLIVE, wink wink) to educate themselves. Wait for the moment in the appointment when the vet asks for any questions or concerns; this is it!  Just remember, there are lots of sites out there that offer false information; ask your vet for a site he/she recommends.

6. Do show up on time. If you show up 15 minutes late, then have to fill out 10 minutes worth of paperwork, you have missed your appointment. Even if your veterinarian still sees you, they will likely be a little annoyed.  We are only human, and showing up latest sends a message of disrespect.  I love it when clients show up a few minutes early. If I have the extra time to spend with them, I gladly will!

5. Do make sure you understand the take-home instructions. Whether it is listening to signs of potential vaccine reactions or understanding how to clean and medicate your dog’s ears safely and effectively, the time and treatments we do in the hospital are essentially meaningless if you are unable to successfully follow up at home.  If you are unsure about something, ask the vet.

4. Do NOT be embarrassed to ask if a less expensive medication or prescription is available. Many animal prescriptions are available as human generics for nominal fees (around $4/month). Many pharmacies (such as megastores like Target and WalMart) don’t even charge for them, especially during flu season when they can lure you into the store in hopes that you spend money on throat lozenges and DayQuil. By the way, your veterinarian is legally obligated to provide with you a prescription to purchase the medication elsewhere. They do have the right to charge you a small prescription writing and record-keeping fee, just so ya know.

3. Do be present. I would think this is a given (cheers to you if you are in this category), but so many clients just drop off their ill pet with the front desk staff, and then I can’t even reach them on the phones to try and get information from them.  Even better yet, be present not only in the physical sense, but pay attention!

Loud speaker

This is your chance to communicate with your veterinarian and be your pet’s advocate.  Give your vet as much information about your pet’s illness, symptoms, and progression.  If you don’t tell me these things (and honestly), I am more likely to miss the clues that will guide me to the right diagnosis.  If you are not sure if something is important, still ask the vet

2. Do make sure you have a veterinarian you click with and can grow to trust.  If you don’t like your vet, why are you a paying client?

1. If you have found a veterinarian chocolate chips cookies, fresh out of oventhat you like and are satisfied with, let your vet know! Nothing says thank you like a basket full of home-made or store bought treats, a cheese pizza to share with the staff, or a handwritten thank you note to them, or even better, to their boss!  (Most vets are too modest to share glowing client thank you notes with their boss.)

Follow these tips and you will soon make your way up to our “Preferred Clients” list , and watch your relationship blossom!   Everyone likes to be appreciated after all.

Cheers to educated owners!

Dr. Laci


Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM

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October 21, 2010 at 03:09

Finding the right vet is much harder than it might seem.

Personally I’d rather take expertise before bed side manners.

It was a long and hard journey for us, but in the process we did find a vet who’s all that and more. We do love him. Particularly because we know how special he is in his knowledge and care.

We do let them know we love them all the time, I do think it’s important, particularly considering what a pain in a back side I can be, leaving no stone unturned.

October 22, 2010 at 18:43

Haha Jana. I can imagine how you would be as a client, and I am certain you are one of his favorite clients and Jasmine is likely one of his most special patients. I know we aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I can’t help it.

Good for you for letting him know how much he is appreciated! That need to help pets and their owners is why we became vets anyway!

November 17, 2010 at 12:27

I just hope people realize that, while everyone loves their pets, dog bites are a leading source of ER visits all over the country. Owners need to keep their dogs under control at all times. What if it were you or your brother who was attacked by a loosedog?

November 26, 2010 at 12:14

I wish people also realized that small dogs can do damage from biting as well. Dog bites are not funny.

November 25, 2010 at 17:53

Not all vets are equal! While most experiences are terrific, there are those few that you have to ask yourself, “are they in it for the animals or for the money?”

I had a dog that I loved, Dee Dee. She was a small Mutt.

Dee Dee had been dumped. She had untreated diabetes that had caused significant damage. She was 10 years old and not expected to make it to 11.

By the time she was 15, DeeDee was blind, had cancer, and was severely diabetic, but DeeDee was very happy and had a very good quality of life.

One day, I came home from work to find her desperately ill. I rushed her to a new vet because she was the only one on call after hours.

The vet told me that Dee Dee was in cardiac crisis. She said that Dee Dee needed to have a pacemaker and that one could be ordered and ‘installed” for a mere $3000. (this was after $500 in other ‘tests’).

I told her that I did not want to put DeeDee through that much trauma. She already was blind, had cancer and diabetes. The insulin shots twice a day were torture enough for her. I also couldn’t afford the treatment.

The vet made me to feel as if I were the most HORRIBLE pet parent on the planet. She ranted and raved about how insensitive I was for not doing “everything” available to treat my dog. She was even so kind as to offer a payment plan so I wouldn’t have to spend the $3000 all at once.

I thanked her, but declined the treatment. Dee Dee then proceeded to puke up what turned out to be some rancid chicken. Then she puked up some more. Then; she felt terrific and began wagging her tail.

I took her home. The following day, I took her for a second opinion at my regular vet. He looked at all of the same tests from the other vet. He then came in and told me the news.

DeeDee had…. indigestion. He gave her some tummy meds and she returned to her favorite afternoon activity; chasing bunnies in the pasture (not bad for a blind dog with cancer and diabetes).

November 26, 2010 at 12:17

Tammy, That is horrible that the vet tried to pressure you into doing something that I think most vets and pet owners would agree that is NOT in the best interest of your blind, cancerous, diabetic dog.

I’m glad that DeeDee had a happy life and a good owner like yourself.

September 29, 2011 at 18:44


October 2, 2011 at 13:19

Glad you enjoyed!

Ferdinand Monnin
August 18, 2012 at 01:01

What a great list. How did you get that on your blog?