Does going to the vet make you nervous? I think there is nothing more frightening than rushing your pet to a vet for an emergency.

It can also be scary when taking your pet for a planned appointment when you suspect there is something wrong. Since our pets cannot tell us what is ailing them, we need to be their eyes and ears. It’s important to gather the right information when you suspect there is an injury, illness, or behavior change.

There are steps that we can take as pet parents to prepare for a vet visit whether it is an emergency or pre-planned visit to help the veterinarian make a diagnosis.

4 Tips on How Prepare For a Vet Visit:

1. Journal

From the time you suspect something may be wrong with your pet, start a daily journal detailing what is going on to prepare for a vet visit. Both of my dogs have Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Before we had a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan to ease the symptoms, I kept a daily journal recording everything about what they ate including the time they ate, medications they took including the time of day, details about their poops, and details on if they threw up. Below is an example journal entry from my French Bulldog, Florence.

Monday, 10/8/12


3:25 a.m. – coughed and threw up 8 inches by 4 inches wide with lots of liquid with small brown spots – acted normal after throwing up

7:50 a.m. – Breakfast

  • 1/3 Cup of IAMS Low Residue kibble
  • 1/2 Can IAMS Low Residue food
  • ½ metronidazole
  • ½ capsule of powder to stop bleeding

8:10 a.m. – thick chocolate pudding poop with some bright red blood at the end

1:45 p.m. – pill pocket w/1/2 capsule of powder to stop bleeding

6:15 p.m. – Dinner

  • 1/3 Cup of IAMS Low Residue kibble
  • 1/2 Can IAMS Low Residue food
  • ½ metronidazole
  • ½ capsule of powder to stop bleeding

6:35 p.m. – thick chocolate pudding poop with diarrhea on top and a little bright red blood

2. Take Pictures

Sharing pictures with your veterinarian can help visually show what you are seeing for things that you may not be able to show them in person. For example, if you think there is blood in the poop, take a picture. Or, if you see a rash on their body that looks worse at different times of the day, take pictures of how the rash changes while documenting in your journal the changes throughout the day.

3. Take Videos

If your pet is limping, having a hard time chewing when eating, reacting in an unusual way to situations that are not normal for your pet, take videos to bring to your veterinarian. For example, there was one night when our English Bulldog, Beatrice, looked like she was involuntarily bobbing her head and couldn’t stop. It didn’t look like a seizure but it still gave us reason to worry. We took a video so we could show the veterinarian once we arrived at the emergency hospital in case she wouldn’t repeat it when we were there in person.

The video then helped the veterinarian diagnose her with head bobbing syndrome.

4. Bring a Fresh Poop Sample

If your pet has loose poops or diarrhea, bring a fresh sample to the appointment in case the veterinarian would like to run tests on it. If you can’t take your pet to the vet right after they poop, bag it and store it in the refrigerator in an air tight container to keep the odor enclosed. When you go to the vet, bring the airtight container in a cooler with you to the appointment to keep it fresh.

When keeping a journal, taking pictures or filming videos don’t worry about making everything look perfect or pretty. The important part is gathering as many details as possible to help describe what is unusual or off about your pet’s behavior or actions to aide your veterinarian in diagnosing your pet.

Do you have other suggestions or tips on how to prepare to for a vet visit to help your veterinarian diagnose your pet?

Jennifer ShaftonJennifer Shafton

Jennifer Shafton, a native of Los Angeles and a USC graduate, currently lives in Sherman Oaks, California.  She is a proud mom of two dogs: Beatrice, a beautiful English Bulldog, and Florence, a spunky French Bulldog. In 2004, she founded Rufus and Delilah Dog Walking and Pet Sitting which services over 200 clients in the San Fernando Valley.  Rufus and Delilah has an impeccable 5 Star Yelp reputation and was voted Best Dog Walker on the L.A. Hotlist four consecutive years (2011-2014).  Jennifer also writes articles on her Rufus and Delilah blog, which covers a variety of dog and cat related topics, as well as a weekly feature on an adoptable pet for a FuRRRRever home. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.