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    Discuss Any Symptoms continued...

    If your vet asks for a stool sample from your pet, ask how much they need, collect a fresh specimen, and bring it to the appointment in a sealed bag. Likewise, if your dog is having a urinary issue, don’t let him relieve himself when you get out of the car, because the vet will want to get a sample.

    Ask your vet about signs you should watch for to see if your pet is getting better or worse. Be ready to answer questions about whether you can give recommended medications or treatments. For instance, if you don't think you could give your pet pills or shots, tell your vet. 

    The office visit is also a good time to ask for handouts or Internet links to good sources that might help you learn more about your pet's illness.

    Use Restraint

    Your dog should be on a leash and your cat in a carrier when you go to the vet. In the office, "there may be other strange animals that are not friendly, and they can become frightened or may even fight," Bailey says.

    If your dog is enthusiastic or assertive, tell your vet's staff in advance. Check that collars, harnesses, and leashes are secure and "comfortably snug," Bailey says.

    If your pet is young, new to the clinic, or fearful, consider stopping by between health-related visits for a weight check or a tasty treat. You can also take your pet in when you pick up medication. That gets your pet familiar with the clinic and the staff.

    6 More Steps to Take

    1. Be on time for your appointment.
    2. If you’ve made an appointment for one pet, "just bring one pet with you," Werner says.
    3. Call ahead to see if your vet is on schedule. The first appointment in the morning might be more likely to be on schedule than one later in the day.
    4. List your questions ahead of time. "This goes a long way to helping the client avoid getting sidetracked and making the most of the pet’s visit," Bailey says.
    5. Ask for an estimate, particularly if your pet has a major health issue. "We can do so much in veterinary medicine now," Werner says. "But it’s not uncommon to need... procedures that can outstrip what the average person can afford."
    6. Know what medications you have at home. "If your cat has an ear infection and you still have medication at home, there's no need for me to dispense more medication, and it will save you money," Werner says.