By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM, and Dana Marcott, CVT
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
As a veterinary technician, a beneficial skill is communicating with clients. In many cases, the technician is your pet’s nurse. Technicians are there to assist the veterinarian in numerous ways, including covering important information regarding your pet.
In my experience, technicians are often underutilized during the check-in process. When getting settled into the exam room, the technician may run through a series of questions to see how your pet has been doing. It is quite common to hear, “Oh, Fluffy has been doing just wonderful,” only to have the veterinarian step into the exam, and suddenly there is a long list of concerns. Talk to the technicians, and let them know what you would like to discuss with the veterinarian. They are trained to ask all the important questions regarding your pet’s health.
To ensure a smoother visit for both you and Fluffy, it may be helpful to have an idea of what you would like covered at the visit prior to coming. What products do you need? Do you need any food? Are there any new concerns? Some clients have even brought pictures or videos of their pet’s lameness or behavior issues to the exam.
Discussing your pet with the technician during the check-in can help make the exam more efficient, less repetitive, reduce your pet’s stress with shorter handling times, and help prepare the veterinarian prior to starting the exam.
As veterinarians, we have to keep up with scheduled appointments. Ideally, the time allotted for each pet matches what it is coming in for. Wellness visits — such as for vaccines, annual checkups, and heartworm testing — take a fairly predictable amount of time. Visits for major health concerns or behavior problems take differing amounts.
When pets are brought in for wellness visits but have medical issues the clients are concerned about, the focus is the health problems. Owners may have to return for additional diagnostic testing in some cases. In other cases, the veterinary team works on the health issues but gets behind in seeing other scheduled patients.
Another concern is getting the full story of a pet’s current health status from owners. For example, a person other than the pet’s owner sometimes brings in the pet, so in this case a written list of the concerns is the best option. That way important details are not missed, and time does not have to be spent calling the owner for information.
Owners can also help themselves by writing their own lists ahead of time. During a busy veterinary visit, it is easy to forget to mention the past history of events that could prove vital to diagnosing a pet’s problems.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.