5 questions every pet owner should ask their vet

We all love our pets and work hard to keep them healthy and happy, but sometimes we don’t know where to start. Working together with your trusted vet is a vital part of being proactive about preventative health. Here are some important questions we can ask to learn more about our pets.

1) Should my pet have tests for hidden diseases? What lab work do you recommend for my pet?

It’s generally recommend that we screen all pets annually from the age of 6 onwards, even if they appear healthy to us as there are many diseases that can become serious and even life-threatening if left undetected—yet very easy to prevent if we catch the warning signs. Our pets often can’t tell us when they’re ill and frequently hide any symptoms until they become serious—this is where regular blood analysis really helps as we can develop an accurate baseline and quickly spot any changes.

A standard blood screening would include a Complete Blood Count (CBC) that will look at red and white blood cells, a Biochemistry Profile that monitors organ function (such as livers and kidneys) and electrolytes, which can help distinguish hormonal disorders. Not all blood tests are the same so make sure you look carefully at what is being tested with your pet.

2) How often should I schedule examinations?

As our pets effectively age 7 years for every human year it’s recommended to have your pets examined by your vet every 6 months (imagine not seeing a doctor for more than 3.5 years!) as their health status changes much more rapidly than us humans. You may even save money when you can work with your veterinarian to tweak your pet’s care in order to prevent health problems from occurring—changing his diet, for example, to help prevent or reverse obesity.

3) What diet should I feed my pet, and how often should he/she be fed?

This is a really important question to discuss with your vet as the answer can vary so much depending on their age, breed, species and current weight—there is no ‘ideal’ diet for dogs or cats! There are a whole number of recommendations for different diets and our pets are complex and have some very important requirements (for example, a vegetarian diet for a cat is fatal) that we need to understand. Your vet should be able to work with you to develop a feeding plan that can include dry/wet/homecooked food to suit your lifestyle while maintaining your pet’s nutrition requirements.

4) Are there supplements or natural remedies that would help my pet? 

There are a huge range of supplements and natural products available both in Vietnam and overseas that seem to cater to every possible scenario with our pets. There are some very good supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint disease, EFAs (essential fatty acids) that can make a big difference with some skin conditions and even probiotics for when our pets suffer from a bout of gastric upset. On the other hand, healthy pets should not need vitamins or supplements on a regular basis. If in doubt, ask your vet.

5) What flea and tick treatments and heartworm treatments do you recommend?

Parasites cause us a huge headache here in the tropics, not to mention they carry a host of nasty diseases. Here, more than ever, prevention is so important as treating these diseases can be very difficult, expensive and frustrating, not to mention dangerous. There is a range of great products available in Vietnam now. For dogs Bravecto is a great, easy and highly effective option for ticks and fleas, Frontline or Advantage/Advocate are good options for our cats and last one month.

To make the best out of your relationship with your pets a proactive approach to healthcare and partnering with your vet before our pets are sick allows us to keeps them healthy for longer, prevents a huge number of unseen problems and allows us all to focus on the reason we keep and care for our pets: love, affection and companionship!