What Will Happen at Your Appointment
When you arrive at Penn Vet, you will be greeted by the senior veterinary student assigned to your pet.
Your veterinary student will begin your consultation by taking a detailed history. We always review records from your pet’s primary veterinarian prior to your appointment, but we will likely ask additional questions to better understand what happened leading up to the diagnosis, as well as information about your pet’s past medical history. As part of our history, we may ask some of the following questions:
- When did you first notice a problem?
- Are there any changes in your pet’s activity or energy level?
- Does your pet seem to be in pain?
- If medications have been prescribed for pain, are they helping?
- Are there any changes in your pet’s appetite?
- Is your pet drinking and/or urinating more or less frequently than normal?
- Has there been any vomiting or diarrhea?
The Physical Examination
Following the history, your pet's veterinary student will perform a detailed physical examination. Sometimes people ask about coming for a consult without their pet, but it’s very important for us to examine your pet to offer our best opinion on treatment options. Besides, we enjoy meeting your pet!
A Team-Based Approach
Once your pet's veterinary student has taken their history and physical exam, they will leave the room to discuss your pet's case with the veterinary team assigned to you and your pet. This includes the house officers (residents and/or interns) and the senior attending veterinarian.
Discussing Your Pet's Case: We ask our students to review their findings, and then develop a specific problem list, list of differential diagnoses, and diagnostic/treatment plan for your pet. This discussion may take 15-30 minutes, and often involves quizzing our students and reviewing your pet's disease process. The veterinary team will then return to the exam room with the student. We may repeat some of the same history questions or ask them in a different way, and we will also repeat the physical exam.
The next step in your appointment with us is to use various tests to get the best and most precise diagnosis of your animal's condition. We will evaluate your pet’s body to determine if and where surgical intervention might be the appropriate clinical approach. Depending on your animal's condition, diagnostic tests may include:
- Minimum Database (complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis)
- Digital Radiographs (x-rays)
- CT scan or MRI
These diagnostic tests can often take several hours, especially if imaging tests are needed. We always give a time estimate based on our diagnostic recommendations, but plan to spend at least three hours at Penn Vet on the day of your first consultation. In some cases, it may be possible to leave your pet with us for a few hours, and meet again at the end of the day to discuss diagnostic results.
Once we have all of the information above, we can make specific treatment recommendations for your pet and provide information on potential treatment, prognosis, and cost. We try to discuss all treatment alternatives so that you can make an informed decision on what will work best for your pet and your family.
There is no pressure to make a decision on the day of your appointment. Many families take information home and consider all of the options before electing to start treatment. We are always happy to answer questions that you may think of after your appointment. Our primary goal is to help you and your pet, and we are here to help guide you through treatment with compassionate care and quality medicine.