How to Make a Vet Appointment: Tips From the Other Side of the Desk


PetMD Editorial

Updated Aug. 25, 2022

Taking your pet to the doctor is not only stressful for you, but for your pet too. You have to arrange your schedule and make time to care for your beloved fur baby, deal with the financial responsibility of the visit and prepare yourself for the aftercare of the visit. Even if your pet just needs an annual check up and vaccines, you’ll likely go home with preventative medications, new knowledge and an overwhelming feeling of relief when you’re back home safe and sound (there were no illnesses, altercations with other patients, no surprises, phew!)

That’s if it all goes well. There are certain circumstances that occur commonly in a veterinary practice that the client doesn’t think of. These tips may make your next experience a little better:

Be Prepared

When scheduling your pet’s appointment, ask the customer service representative what you should bring. A poop sample? Pee sample? Previous medical records from another vet you forgot you even went to because it was almost a year ago, and you were out of town, and your dog got diarrhea from your mother in law feeding him too many table scraps? Records you may have from PetSmart, when you just stopped by to get a toy and ended up getting his nails trimmed and then there was a vaccine clinic, and then, and then?

You may think it’s no big deal to mention, but the doctor needs to be aware of any and all medical treatments performed on your pet in the past. If it’s a new pet, bring everything you have from the place or organization where you acquired your pet—including all certificates, tags, anything and everything!

Get the Customer Service Agent’s Opinion

Ask the representative what the best time for your pet’s needs are. Friday nights and Monday mornings are the busiest times in an animal hospital, and are prime time for most emergencies. This may not be the best time to bring you skittish elderly cat in for a check up.

Additionally, the day after a holiday are by far the busiest and least predictable days in a veterinary clinic, so is probably not the best time to request a bath and ear cleaning for your dog. There are emergency turkey-eating dogs, tinsel-swallowing cats and stressed people just trying to recover from the holiday.

Here are a few other no-gos when it comes to making an appointment:

Never on a Sunday: Not only a traditional Greek song, but also good advice. Many veterinary hospitals are not open on Sundays and those who are carry all the weight for those that aren’t. Although it may be convenient to get your errands taken care of, have the dog’s nails trimmed or just stop by to chat with the veterinarian about the latest food recall, Sundays are usually a very busy day of unexpected emergencies.

Late-Day Routine Appointments: Bad things are often discovered when people get home from work. The dog got into the trash can. The cat peed outside the litter box. Someone threw up all over the house (and I have five dogs, so I have to bring them all in to find out who got sick!). When scheduling a routine appointment, try not to ask for the last appointment. Not only are these time slots often held to accommodate late day emergencies, it is very possible that you are going to have to wait ... a while. The doctor may have been in appointments for four hours, and each one ran just a few minutes long. Then those five dogs showed up.

For your own sanity and convenience, be open with the customer service representatives at the front desk. Keep an open mind, and if you think of it, call before you leave the house to double check that everything is running smoothly at the clinic. It may save yourself some aggravation and keep everyone with happy tails. 

Natasha Feduik is a licensed veterinary technician with Garden City Park Animal Hospital in New York, where she has been practicing for 10 years. Natasha received her degree in veterinary technology from Purdue University. Natasha has two dogs, a cat and three birds at home and is passionate about helping people take the best possible care of their animal companions.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health