Preparing for House Calls
While it may seem like a no brainer to prepare for a house call veterinary visit, there are certain things you need to consider to make your pets appointment go as smooth as possible. One of the great benefits to having a house call is being able to have the doctor examine your pet in their own home environment. We want that environment to be as calm and pleasant as possible with minimal disruption to their day to day routine.
Here is a little about what to expect. The doctor will be arriving at your house as close to the scheduled time as possible. Since travel is involved, some delays such as traffic or unexpected emergencies can not be anticipated. However if a delay does occur, such as a previous appointment goes late, you will be notified as soon as possible. The doctor brings with him a good selection of medications and medical tools which he will use to examine, diagnose and treat your pet. Everything needed fits into a conveniently sized tool box on wheels. Dr. Steve calls this his “vet clinic in a box.” The kitchen area is usually the preferred area to perform examinations but any spot in the house with a flat elevated surface will suffice. Small dogs and cats are examined on a table or counter top while large dogs will be examined on the floor. It does take a few minutes for the doctor to set up so it will not be necessary to fetch your pet immediately upon arrival. This will also give us a chance to chat and get some necessary history about your pets past and the problem at hand. You may be asked to help hold on to your pet during the examination while the doctor is drawing blood and/or taking other samples. If you are not comfortable with this please let us know when you make the appointment and the doctor will bring an assistant. Otherwise, Dr. Steve usually travels alone.
Keeping your pet calm right before the appointment is best. A bored pet is much easier to examine and treat than one that has just been out playing in the yard and is still very excited. If your pet has a kennel it is best to allow them to stay in it until the doctor is ready. Friendly dogs and cats are free to roam until set up is complete and the doctor is ready. For timid pets it is usually best to confine them to a small area such as a carrier or bathroom. While this may seem out of the ordinary for them it will be much less stressful than if we have to chase them around the house, fetch them from under the bed, or extract them from being the washing machine! It is also a good idea to use a leash on your pet even inside the house during the visit. Many pets are quite happy at home and will constantly try to “walk away” during an exam. The less time they spend being poked and prodded by the doctor, even in their own home, the happier they will be. The idea is to do things quickly before they even realize that the is a “Vet” in the house.
As part of a routine visit the doctor may need to collect samples from your pet such as blood, urine, stool, etc. This will be part of your homework. Pets being seen for annual vaccinations or that have digestive problems such as diarrhea will be asked to submit a stool sample. A same day or day before sample is best. I only need a piece about the size of a quarter. Place in a plastic bag or container with the patients name on it. Stool samples are routinely checked for the presence of intestinal parasites.
For patients 10 years or older, or patients experiencing urinary issues, a urine sample will be requested. Again a small sample is all that is needed. One teaspoonful is plenty. Collecting from male dogs is simple. They like to pee on everything. Your tool of collection will be something simple like a plasticware container. Keep your dog on a leash when he lifts his leg to urinate and catch! Female dogs are a bit more challenging depending on how low they get to the ground. You may need to use something flat like a plastic top. Try to slide it underneath when they squat, then pour it into a container. Remember, we don’t need a lot. It just needs to be clean. Cat’s are more of a challenge. The best way to collect urine from a cat is to empty the litter box and clean it well. DO NOT put the litter back in! Instead, put something non absorbent like shredded newspaper, packing peanuts or urine collection pellets that can be obtained from the pet store. Worst case scenario, leave the box empty. Most cats will still urinate in an empty litter box. Once the sample is collected and placed in a clean plastic container, the box can be cleaned and the litter replaced. Urine samples should be refrigerated until submitted to the doctor.