The Follow-up Vet Visit: Must we follow through?

Posted by Raja on July 11th, 2011 — Posted in Health

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Raja helps Dr. Holmberg of the Animal Eye Center of New Jersey see his eyes clearly.

Probably we do.  Unless, on the first time we took our pet to see the vet, it was discovered that nothing was wrong and we were just making things up. 

But seriously, here’s why the follow up is a necessary part of the healing process… 

The follow up visit is usually not as expensive as the initial visit and, if your vet prescribed meds, you will want to see if the vet considers the meds to be effective.  Limited results might indicate a change of meds is going to be best.  If an emerging condition was suspected, somebody other than yourself- i.e. somebody with medical training and the knowledge of alternate meds- has got to make the call. 

All medical conditions require a base line to determine change for the better or worse.  The initial visit was the base line for the condition, measured against the base line for total health.  The follow-up measures change against these numbers.  Of course you will be expected to weigh in. You should give your critique of how the prescribed treatment worked and request a possible adjustment in meds if you feel you need one.  (And, yes, it is reasonable to ask if a less expensive, but similar, medication is available.)  Nonetheless, your sense of wellness is external and somewhat subjective and- just admit it- always hopeful.  A blood test, for example, offers objectivity.   You can’t do the blood test (or you shouldn’t!) and you can’t interpret the results.

For those of us who have been sent to specialty vets for an in depth analysis of a condition, the follow up should be with the specialist, unless otherwise directly instructed.  Please make sure you request that a copy of the specialty doctor’s analysis be sent to your regular vet. 

But can’t we just Google to find out what’s wrong in many cases?  Yes and no.  Sure, we can Google.  Lots of good information is posted on line.  Without leaving our houses, visiting the library or taking a veterinary degree, we consumers can still find out a lot about pet health.  Isn’t that wonderful?  But lots of inaccurate information is posted on line too.  There is, to date, no consistent method of evaluating what gets posted.  A pet medical site with a professionally styled header and sidebar is no measure of the accuracy of the reportage.  We rely on the scruples and the biases of the poster.   

How about online pet forums- can information from these groups help us make medical decisions outside of the vet’s office?  Sure it can, but, please let’s not rely on a series of random comments from a variety of sources to substitute for a medical degree.  Shared forum information is very helpful, especially when learning how to tie a Shih Tzu top knot, but we need to think carefully about the sources of medical information. 

The follow up visit heads off potential future trouble, trouble which can be expensive at best and dangerous or threatening to your pet’s happiness at worst.  Furthermore, consistent attention to a troublesome condition reassures your pet that vet visits are benign and that his source of discomfort is being worried over by somebody other than himself.

For travel dogs… do ask your specialist if a similar specialist exists at your travel destination.   (You can also research this on your own and keep an address handy for just in case.)  In cases of highly specialized meds and travel, if possible, get a second prescription, or divide your prescription so you have a spare in case of loss during transit. 

Remember, after collecting accurate information specific to your pet, you are always the decision maker. 

One of these cooperative kittens could be yours!


PS: The cats of summer are upon us… if you live in or near New Jersey and want one of these four week old (as of June 11), adorable and charmingly purring kittens, please write:  

Raja says, cats will watch the home while you travel.  That’s what they do best.


Comment by The McLane Cats

Follow up visits are VERY important. Just ask Nyima, who suffered a series of injuries and infections as a kitten. Thanks to follow-up visits he has made it to feline adulthood intact! (Not easy given our backgrounds).

We also rather like those kittens and think they would be a wonderful addition to any household with or without travel dogs. Thanks for helping out Raja! x

Posted on July 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

Comment by Pat & Buttercup

Good advice Raja .. As we know I do go to specialist and always follow up…even with their advice mom still thinks she knows best…and can always come up with a million questions and numerous repeat phone calls to calm her fears ! We do sometimes goggle info .. But it usually leads to more questions and fears , so maybe we shouldn’t do that lol ! I am one of the
lucky ones that can afford to go to specialist as so many can’t .. At the least do go for your routine visits and follow your vets advice always .. They do know best !

Posted on July 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Comment by The McLane Cats

Without follow up visits 3 of us would be blind and one of us would have had major issues with a hole in his stomach (Nyima). Lives can depend on following through.
Remember: prevention is better than cure, and cheap is expensive.

Posted on July 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Comment by Cy, CT & Tasha

Thank you for the reminder Raja, we agree the follow up visits are always important. You sure were being a good boy having your eyes examined, we hope we can be as good as you if we ever need to have our eyes checked by a specialist.

Posted on July 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Comment by Sheryll & Critters.

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!

Raja, little baby, darling boy… we are so sorry we did not send our birthday greetings to you yesterday. We were trying to be so patient and wait then we were not on the puter and missed greeting you. We feel just awful. The fur kids are all in a panic and I am now in the proverbial dog house and they are for sure upset with me!


Rufus (MIA), Sugar, Sapphire, Sadie & her two babies, Galahad, Sunshine & Shadow……… and me the one in big trouble.

Posted on July 15, 2011 at 7:12 am

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