Taking time out of your day to bring your pet to the veterinarians can be a bit of a hassle for many people with busy lives. The last thing you want is unforeseen factors causing even more hassle for your visit. Here are some tricks and tips to make things go as smoothly and quickly as possible at the veterinarian’s.
1. Avoid the wait. It is unquestionably aggravating to have scheduled your appointment a week ago, showed up on time, and still have to wait 45 minutes to be seen. We at the office know that is a serious inconvenience and do our best to arrange the schedule with open spaces for emergencies and other built in flex time to try to keep us on track. Unfortunately there are days when everyone in town seems to have an emergency, and rather than turn our clients away when they really need help we choose to work them in, which sometimes results in being behind for those who had scheduled appointments. Certain times of the day tend to be worse for this problem than others. I am almost never behind for the first appointment of the morning, but as the morning progresses work-ins, late arriving appointments, and other factors have a way of compounding and increasing the chances that the latest morning appointments will have to wait. After working straight through lunch I am usually back on track for the first afternoon appointments. The worst time of day for having to wait is after 5:00pm. At that time we are seeing regular appointments, sending home surgeries, and fielding many emergencies because people are just coming home from work and finding their pets in crisis. If you can be flexible about what time you can schedule an appointment your best bet is to shoot for first thing in the morning or first thing in the afternoon.
2. Bring appropriate samples. Patients with diarrhea or urinary problems will almost always need a stool sample or urine sample examined. If you bring the appropriate sample with you a technician can be looking at it while the doctor performs the interview and physical exam. If we need a stool sample and one was not brought in we have to use a stick with a loop on the end to slide up your pet’s rectum to collect the needed sample. Your pet will thank you for thinking ahead. If your are not sure how to collect a sample feel free to ask when you call in. If collecting a sample from your pet is not possible at least try not to actively sabotage the chances of getting a sample at the office by encouraging your pet to relieve itself outside right before coming in. When we cannot collect the samples we need the diagnosis and treatment may be put off until the next day.
3. Minimize distractions. About 1 out of every 3 appointments I see is interrupted by a cell phone call. I promise the world will live without you for 15 minutes if you leave your cell phone off, and we can use that time to give our undivided attention to the patient. Having small children in the exam room is the ultimate distraction. Universally, these appointments result in parents being unable to listen to anything that is being said because they have to spend the entire time correcting the behavior of the children. The appointments tend to get rushed because parents are in a hurry to get the kids out before they go thermonuclear, and the veterinarian is in a hurry to let them go before the kids tear the place down around their ears. The party that loses in that equation is the pet, because we were unable rationally assess problems and make recommendations to improve the pet’s health, which after all was supposed to be the reason we were coming to the veterinarian to begin with. Understandably, child care is not always available, especially in emergency situations, but if there is a way to have someone else watch the kids while you are at the vet I guarantee you will get better value from your appointment.