What to expect when visiting a vet

Visiting a vet for the first time can be a daunting experience if you are not prepared. Just like going to a regular doctor, there are some things to bring along, the information you need to know and some guidelines to follow once you are there. To make your visit to your local veterinary practice as easy for you and as peaceful for your pet as possible, here are some tips and guidelines to follow.

Information about the patient

At your first visit, you will need to provide information about the patient and some information about yourself. It is very important to have the right information about your pet at hand, as this information may affect the treatment the vet will provide to your pet. Information required includes: Breed, species, date of birth, last vaccination date, colour, gender, is the pet sterilised and is the pet microchipped. If your pet has any pre-existing medical conditions, remember to disclose this information from the start.

You will also need to provide personal information to the vet in order for them to contact you. This information may include Name, surname, address, home number, work number, cell phone number, email address and even your ID number.

You can expect a cost estimate

Most vets will provide you with a fairly accurate cost estimate for routine procedures (vaccinations and sterilisations). Please remember that it may be harder to estimate what the final cost will be, as the situation gets more complex. At first glance, the vet does not know everything about your pet, as the vet investigates he/she can find additional issues which affect the diagnosis, prognosis and the costs involved.

Remember to bring up the issue of cost to the vet before any procedures are performed to ensure you are not surprised with a big bill you can’t afford.

What can the vet do on site

Veterinary practices usually have a wide range of equipment necessary for diagnosing, testing and treating. If your pet has a serious problem, the vet might recommend a veterinary specialist with a particular skill set to assist your pet. This is the same principle as human doctors, you will go to your general practitioner and he or she will refer you to a specialist if the issue requires a specialist.

Develop a relationship

It is always a good idea to develop a relationship with your vet, but remember you are free to get a second or third opinion if you are uneasy with the diagnosis or prognosis the vet suggested for your pet.


When you take your pet to the vet, the vet can dispense prescription medication for your pet. Please note that your vet may have a dispensing policy, make sure you are aware of it in order to get your medication on time.

Ask for advice

Your vet knows a lot about animals, feel free to ask your vet questions you are not sure of in your consultation, they will gladly give you advice on how to give your pet everything they need. Please note, that the vet is busy with other animals and can’t necessarily answer your questions at any given time, speak to the receptionists and they will either give you an answer or get back to you with feedback from the vet.

Regular checkups

It is important that your pet gets regular health checks at a vet. Ask your vet at what interval you should bring in your pet for checkups. Health checkups help catch problems early which gives your pet a long and happy life.

Finding a reliable vet

It is very important that you find a vet you are comfortable with and one you can establish a good relationship with. This is not always easy to do. Some tips when searching for a vet include: making sure they are registered with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC). The SAVC is the regulatory body for the veterinary profession in South Africa which determines and upholds the scientific and ethical standards of professional conduct and education. The vet can also register with the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) which provides the vet with opportunities for professional development and fosters close ties to the community to promote health and welfare of animals.


If you experience any problems with the service you received from your veterinarian, you should raise it directly with the vet first. Ask to speak to the practice manager or the principal vet if you are not comfortable talking directly to the vet in question.

Veterinarians are accountable to the SAVC (South African Veterinary Council), if you are not happy with the response from your vet, you can contact the SAVC. The SAVC has the power to investigate professional complaints against vets and impose disciplinary action if required.