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Written By Linda Altman
Edited and Fine Tuned by Thresa

The best time to interview a veternarian is before you bring a new pet home.
Make sure members of the facility are knowlegeable about your exotic pet.


Keep a record of your pet's date of birth or purchase, where purchased, mate, female's date of first litter, etc., vet visits, medical problems (major, minor or otherwise), unusual behaviors, weight, injuries, vet visits, medical problems (major, minor or otherwise). I an emergency you will not have to go by memory, keep this record up to date and handy,it will be a great source of information to a veterinarian. If your usual vet is not available, this information is of utmost importance!

What to do when you know your pet needs help:

Stay calm and assess the problem - what makes you think something is wrong?
You will need to give information such as:

Is the animal eating/drinking? If no, when did it stop or when did you notice the change?
Is there a discharge or mucus in the eyes, ears, nose etc?
Is it breathing ok or is the breathing labored, wheezy, coughing etc.?
Are the feet, nose and gums a normal color or are they blue, red, ornot normal?
Is the animal more/less active than usual?
Are the feces normal?
Is there irritation, smeared feces near or around the anal area?
When was the last fecal exam done? (the record you keep makes it easy to answer this).
Is the animal causing injury to itself by chewing, licking, etc?
Have you taken the animal's temperature? (not always an easy or feasible task)
Is the animal allowed to roam outdoors?
Did you have your house or yard sprayed recently?
If the animal is allowed to roam or got out of the yard - do the neighbors have rodent problems? (rat/mouse poison may need to be looked into).
Have a list of any and all medications, or supplements that your pet is currently taking and the dosages and name brand/manufacturer of the product.

Also, let them know what you have done if anything to try to help the situation - diet/supplement change, wound dressing/cleaning, etc. The more specific you can be, the better help your veterinarian can be.

After getting your pet to the veterinarian you need to be very sure that you understand and can follow the course of treatment. Some questions that your vet wishes that you would ask are:
Are you familiar with this problem, have you treated this before inthis species?
- if not, ask your vet to refer you to a specialist, the vet should gladly give you a referal.
Is this the only course of treatment available?
How long will this treatment last and what outcome can I expect?
Can I expect a full recovery or will there be special needs after this?
Is a diet change necessary?
What pain management options are available?
How can I make my pet more comfortable during this treatment?
Do you recommend any vitamin, mineral or other supplements during this treatment?
What about treats?
What problems, side effects, or other symptoms should I be looking for and when do I need to call you?
If this course of action does not work, what are plans B, C etc.?
How effective are these alternative treatments?
Does physical activity need to be limited, increased, kept the same?
Do you have a care sheet for me or can you write these directions down for me?
What is the cost of all of this going to be?

If the condition is serious or terminal ask the following questions:

What is the life expectancy of an animal with this problem?
What is the best course of action?
What if I do nothing or what other options are available?
What signs should I look for to determine if the animal is suffering and its quality of life is at the point where the humane thing to do is to euthanize?
How will I know when or if euthanasia is necessary? (it's best to discuss this before a decision needs to be made)
Can I be there with my pet during euthanasia?

A good veterinarian will welcome these questions and be upfront and open with you as they will know you're a caring pet owner with the pets best interest at heart. Be sure that you understand what the course of treatment is and how to manage the problems your pet has. If you do not understand, ask until you do understand. Your veterinarian knows that you do not have a DVM degree and should try to put things in terms that you can understand. Never be afraid to say I don't understand this, can you explain it again?

Remember that your pet depends on you to get well. If you do not understand the course of treatment you cannot help them.

This file created by Linda Altman,