1) Make your appointment well in advance. Be up front with all the concerns you have or all the care you wish your pet to receive during the visit. Give yourself plenty of time for travel to and from the vet’s office and include a little extra time in case you encounter any delays during your pet’s visit.

2) Write down the name of your pet’s food and treats. Don’t forget to record how much you feed and how often. Be sure to include supplements and vitamins. It doesn’t hurt to write down all your pet’s current medicines and the amounts you give and how often. Your vet should already know this but take the time to be sure everyone is on the same page with this vital part of your pet’s care. Include flea, tick and heartworm preventives on your list too! And do you need refills of your supplies?

3) Write down all your questions! There is no such thing as a dumb question. “What’s the best ear cleaner” and “what treats are the best” are examples. Really get yourself thinking! Writing them down ensures that you’ll get them all answered. Vet visits can be filled with a lot of important information that can be hard to remember!

4) Get your veterinary records together in an electronic file. This is especially important if you see more than one veterinarian or if you are switching veterinarians. Then get the records sent to the new vet’s office. This will give your new veterinarian time to look them over and be familiar with your furry friend’s medical history before you walk in the door to the exam room.

5) If your pet has developed a strange behavior or new way of walking, get a video! Most of us have this capacity at our fingertips! Lumps under the skin or small skin lesions can sometimes be hard to find in all the excitement of the vet visit. At home, safely trim some fur near the concern to make locating it easier. Sometimes, a picture can also help.

6) Ask for an estimate of the cost of your pet’s visit. If your visit is for routine care, then the staff should be able to estimate these expenses. But be aware that if your vet finds a concern during the physical exam, there may be additional fees that could not be predicted. Find out if your vet offers some kind of financing or accepts Care Credit. It really helps to be upfront about your financial budget. Start a pet health savings account!

7) Be sure to have at home any medication that your pet may need before the office visit. Some pets require medication to ease vaccine pain, or meds to help with exam or travel anxiety. A few moments spent medicating your pet can make a world of difference between trauma and hassle vs. a smooth trip to the vet. Everyone will thank you! Read more about helping your pet to have a fear free visit here.

8) Bring all the equipment you might need for the visit. A leash and snug fitting collar keeps your canine under control in this very intimidating environment. Cats in cat carriers are a must! Don’t be fooled by a cat that seems calm at home. A cat carrier that opens on the top or that comes apart will make getting Fluffy out of the carrier less traumatic! Bring Fido’s just-in-case muzzle, the one he already knows. Your veterinary staff will love you! A roll of paper towels or an old bath towel can come in handy for spills or accidents in the car.

9) Your pet is part of the family, for sure. However, vet visits concerning a sick or injured pet can be difficult and require the full attention of a responsible adult. A crying baby or fussy little ones can add extra stress to a scared or anxious pet. If children need to come along, it may be helpful to bring a second adult that can wait with the children somewhere outside the vet’s exam room.

10) Ask questions about anything that your vet says during the visit that you don’t understand. Your veterinarian will be happy to clarify any confusion. Also make sure that you understand any and all instructions for medications you are taking home. Be honest if you suspect that you may not be able to perform a task for your pet. Ask for handouts or online sources of information explaining the recommended therapies or diseases that you and your vet have been talking about. These types of things can be helpful for family members not present and to refresh your memory of the visit.