AS A vet, one learns early on not to begin a consultation by asking, "What is wrong with Fluffy", in order to avoid the thigh-slappingly non-funny quip of "You're the vet, you tell me!"
At the other end of the spectrum we get clients who express awe at our seemingly super-human ability to make a diagnosis "when they can't tell you where it hurts". Of course the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
There is nothing magic about what we do, we simply rely on a detailed physical examination of the patient, a history of what the owner has observed, and maybe some further ancillary pathology tests and possibly imaging with radiographs, ultrasound and now even CT and MRI.
Sure, it is sometimes more difficult because animals can't talk, but they can and do provide feedback in other ways.
As a pet's carer, you can help immensely to make our job easier and get the best result for your pet, by providing as much detail in the history of your observations of your pets illness.
Sometimes your intuition of "she's just not herself" is all we get, and that is fine. (In my experience, people's intuitions are invariably correct, people know their pets!)
Here are some tips that might be helpful. Keep a written note of what you notice and when, with a description of what you are seeing/hearing/smelling!
One persons cough is another's gag or retch, so if you can recount exactly what happened then the vet can distinguish between say, a vomit and regurgitation which can be crucial.
If possible use photos or video to record what you see, because just as that annoying squeak in your car vanishes as you drive in to the mechanic's, so often does the lameness miraculously disappear with the adrenaline of a vet clinic visit.
By all means use the internet as a resource, but beware, Dr Google is not infallible.
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