Provided by our friends at VetStreet
Making a plan to deal with a pet’s health care issues means making choices. And if you’ve got to make a choice, you may as well fully understand your options. To ensure you have all the facts, you can do your part by asking your veterinarian these five questions:
1. What will we do with this information?
As I mentioned, veterinarians are trained to find answers. We tend to believe that knowledge is power and that information by itself is valuable. (Often this is true, but sometimes it’s not.) As a result, we frequently recommend additional tests or diagnostic options.
If a test doesn’t change the course of treatment or the prognosis, is it still worth doing? For example, let’s say we have a patient with cancer. If there were a test or procedure that would let us know whether we could expect the pet to live for only a month or for six months more, but it would not affect how we treated the patient, would you agree to it? What if it was very expensive?
I don’t think there’s a wrong answer to this question. I also don’t think veterinarians are wrong to recommend tests that provide more information without necessarily affecting treatment. Everyone approaches these situations a little differently, and veterinarians are in search of knowledge. That’s why asking, “What will we do with this information?” is important to help you as a pet owner make an empowered, informed decision.
2. What are the next steps?
Information is great, but understanding what you and your vet are going to do with the information is more important. There’s nothing wrong with asking your vet to explain, step by step, what the plan is. Asking for next steps is a great way to get peace of mind and a grip on how to move forward.
3. Are there other options?
It is the job of a veterinarian to make recommendations about your pet’s health. Sometimes what a vet recommends is not feasible, affordable or ideal for your specific situation or perspective. That’s OK.
When your veterinarian makes a recommendation about treating your pet, it’s never wrong to ask what your other options are. The important thing you need to understand is the differences among options when your veterinarian lays them out for you.