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Happy Vets Visits

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vets visit

Happy Vets Visits

Is your dog afraid of visiting the vets? It’s a common phobia in dogs, turning any normally happy pup into a quivering wreck.  It’s about as pleasant as visiting the dentist for most people.  And can be stressful for both dog and owner.

Why is my dog scared?

The veterinarian office is an overwhelming place.  As soon as pooch walks through the door there’s the chance he will be faced with strangers, as well as dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets in close proximity.  Not only that but strange smells and noises can add to heightened arousal levels.

This is followed by the examination, physical handling of your pooch all over his body can be extremely uncomfortable for him.  The visit may end with a vaccination or blood sample being taken.  All of this may happen when pooch is not feeling well, ending in a fairly traumatic experience for your poor pooch.

Fears get worse when the experience is repeated with a bad outcome. So it’s never too late to be proactive and start working to reduce your pets fear. Signs of fear in dogs include ears back, panting, tail tucked between the legs, yawning, shaking, drooling, and whining.

How can we make it less stressful?

With time and effort, vet’s visits can become less stressful, and anxiety can be reduced.

It’s always best to start when puppy is young.

  • Visit the vet’s surgery several times without being examined. A good vet’s surgery will allow dogs to call in with no appointment so that the dog can get accustomed to the environment.  Social visits should include lots of treats and play, with no handling.  Staff may also help by offering the dog treats and interactions if the dog is ok with it.
  • Don’t force your dog to do anything. Try to avoid dragging or carrying your dog to interactions.  Make sure that you have plenty of time before your appointment to make sure that pooch is comfortable and happy.  Giving him lots of treats and praise while he’s there.
  • Begin handling at home. It’s a scary thing being prodded and poked by a stranger, so it is important to get your dog used to being handled as he would during an exam.  Spend a few minutes each day checking ears, eyes, nose, mouth, paws, tail, and tummy, making sure that he gets lots of treats and praise.
  • Use an anxiety wrap.  The anxiety wrap uses pressure around the body to reduce stress, kind of like wrapping yourself in a blanket after a stressful day. There are now plenty of brands on the market to choose from.

Managing your dog’s fear

Sometimes, in emergency situations, it’s not possible to prepare your dog for a visit to the vets.   But there may be somethings you can do to make it less stressful.

  • Use medication to reduce stress and anxiety.  There are several options you may consider, brands such as PetRemedy, and Adaptil may help.  Valerian root supplements can be used to sedate and calm a dog, more recently people have been using CBD oil, (find out more here), with their dogs and reporting less anxiety.  Both of these option should be used only after plenty of research and consultation with your vet first. (Click here for more info on CBD oil for dogs).
  • Use a muzzle.  A muzzle will not calm the dog or help with his stress, but it will reduce the likelihood of being bitten. Click here for more info on how to use a muzzle.

As with most fears and phobias in dogs, puppy training can help to prevent the development of a fear.  Early handling and vets visits with treats and play can really help you dog feel comfortable in the environment.

For older dogs, plenty of treats and play is needed without being examined.  Remember to work at your dog’s own pace and building up to where he is comfortable.

Any good vets practice and its staff will want to help you and your dog.  Make sure that the staff are patient and willing to offer treats and praise to your dog.