So far, it seems consistent that when a question about a pet is missing certain information, there usually follows a common comment requesting vitals.

In lieu of being able to add this to a FAQ, I've posted this question to establish a reference to consolidate commonly expected information which might be helpful for posters to provide in the interest of expediting more complete answers.

Requests for vitals have included, but are not limited to:

  • age (or approximation)
  • gender
  • breed / species
  • training history
  • ownership / source history
    • adopted vs. pet store vs. puppy mill
    • a count of prior owners
  • medical history
    • neutered
    • diseases / afflictions
  • housing (indoor / outdoor)
  • presence of other pets (and their vitals)

While no one expects any poster to answer all of these on a given post (nor are many necessary, nor might any be known, nor do many qualify for certain pets), I think at least a certain subset (age, gender, breed/species if possible) should be expected to be provided on questions.


6 Answers 6


We have, I believe, three options:

  1. We can add it to the help center in the "What topics can I ask about here?" section (I think the "How do I ask a good question?" section would be a better spot, but unfortunately moderators do not have the option of modifying that section).
  2. We can have a question tagged here in meta that provides the information in a comprehensive answer. doesn't always get the visibility a primary resource should have, especially for users new to the SE platform, but some people do use the tag when coming to a SE community they haven't participated in before. If we go this route, I suggest editing this question to be a bit distinct from the question we'd create, as questions should be simple, concise, and have just one (possibly CW) answer that provides comprehensive information.
  3. We could agree upon a standard comment that any user or moderator could leave if they feel key information is missing from a question. If we decide to also use either of the other options, we could reference those resources in the standard comment. For example:

In order to receive the best quality answers, please provide additional details about your pet(s), such as age, gender, breed/species, other pets that share the household, if the pet is allowed outdoors, how long the pet has been with you, where the pet came from (adopted, rescued, raised by a breeder, etc.), or anything else that might help. For more suggestions, see our help center, or this meta discussion.

My preference would be to use a combination of all three. A little redundancy doesn't hurt when providing guidance to new visitors to our community.

  • I have no problem editing and maintaining this question as a community wiki / FAQ, once we get enough data and consensus.
    – JoshDM
    Nov 8, 2013 at 17:08
  • Personally I prefer the annoying and time wasting use of poorly crafted pop up boxes, but seriously, I think you have the answer +1
    – user87
    Nov 9, 2013 at 4:38

What to include when asking for medical advice:

1. The species and breed of your pet.
For obvious reasons, it's hard to give an answer if we don't even know what animal you're talking about.

If you're asking for medical advice about fish, be sure to also include the information found in the section on What to include in questions about fish?.

If you're asking for medical advice about reptiles or amphibians, be sure to also include the information found in the section on What to include in questions about reptiles and amphibians?

2. If they've been desexed or not.
In case there are conditions that are based on whether or not they've been desexed, please include this information.

3. If they have any known medical conditions (e.g. arthritis, diabetes, etc.).
Knowing what other conditions the animal has can tell us whether or not the new symptoms might be related, or if you need to inquire with a vet about a new condition.

4. What vaccinations they've received.
If your pet has been vaccinated against an illness, then it should be noted so that illness can be ruled out.

5. The age of the pet.
Animals, like humans, have different risks depending on their ages. Knowing the age of your pet helps us to make better recommendations on how to care for your pet.

6. A picture of the condition.
If the condition is something that's visible. Please include a picture of it. Since we cannot touch your pet over the internet, being able to see it is the next best thing.

7. What exactly do you want to know?
The more specific you can be with your question, the more detailed your answer can be. Instead of asking what condition you might have, and how you might treat it. Think about asking what condition it is first, and then asking a new question about the treatment of that condition.


What to include in questions about reptiles and amphibians?

1. What is the size of your terrarium?
Depending on what type of terrarium you have, this can be stated in either gallons, or the dimensions of the terrarium.

2. What lights do you have?
Lighting is important with reptiles, and some amphibians. With questions on reptiles, you'll want to also include what UV lights you have.

3. What are the temperatures?
Both reptiles and amphibians rely on outside temperatures to manage their body heat. For reptiles, also include the temperatures in the basking area.

4. What else is living in your terrarium?
If your reptile or amphibian has any roommates, they should be mentioned.

5. What is the substrate?
There are many different options for substrates, some of them shouldn't be used for certain species. If you're asking for medical advice, please include what substrate you're using so it can be considered for possible side-effects.


What to include in a question asking about changes in a pet's behaviour:

1. The species and breed of your pet.
For obvious reasons, it's hard to give an answer if we don't even know what animal you're talking about.

2. The age of the pet.
Behaviours differ between young animals and old animals, telling us the age of the animal helps us to determine if the behaviour is normal or not.

3. What changes have occurred in your routine in the past week (or more)?
Pets like routines, they get used to routines, so it's possible that if you're seeing a change in you pet's behaviour, it could be a response to a change in the routine. In order for anyone to say for sure, we need to know what could have changed that could cause the behaviour. Even if it's something as small as getting up an hour earlier than usual yesterday.

4. Have they been desexed?
Desexing can alter behaviour. Knowing if they've been desexed helps us to know what types behaviour should be expected.

5. The sex of the pet.
Behaviours differ between sexes of any animal. Knowing the sex of the pet helps us give a better answer.


What to include when asking for training advice:

1. The species and breed of your pet.
For obvious reasons, it's hard to give an answer if we don't even know what animal you're talking about. The breed is especially important in these questions, because different breeds have different training requirements.

2. The age of the pet.
You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it requires different training methods. Knowing the age of the pet helps us to recommend the training methods that can work best for the age of your pet.

3. What training methods have you already tried?
If you've already tried a training method, there's no need for anyone to spend time including that method in their answer (unless they want to), so help us skip to the new methods by telling us what you've tried already.


What to include in questions about fish:

1. What is the size of your aquarium?
You don't necessarily have to go and measure your aquarium, just tell us how many gallons it can hold.

2. What are the water parameters?
At the very least, it's helpful to know what the temperatures and the pH levels of the water is, so that can be ruled out from any medical, behavioural, or even compatability questions . Different fish not only like different temperatures, but also different levels of pH.

3. What else is living in your aquarium?
We can't really tell you if an animal is going to be compatible if we don't know what they're going to be living with. Listing of the other inhabitants of the tank will help us give a more accurate recommendation. It will also help with questions on behaviour, to rule out the possibility of a tank-mate being the cause of the behaviour.

4. Is it a saltwater or freshwater aquarium?
For the most part it's going to be possible to tell the difference based on what fish are living in the aquarium, but it's still helpful to make it clear by mentioning it at least once. If you have a saltwater aquarium, be sure to mention if you have any corals in your tank, as they can affect recommendations on compatibility and treatment.
Be sure to use either the or tag.

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