7 Tips for a Stress-free Vet Visit

November 4, 2013

Have you ever tried to drag an unwilling, frightened dog through the doors of the veterinarian’s office?  I have, and it isn’t a pleasant experience.  For many animals, a visit to the vet is the most stressful event they ever experience.  There is the memory of injections that hurt, or the indignity of a thermometer being shoved where it’s most uncomfortable, cats yowling, large dogs barking in the waiting room, and even the unfamiliar odors.  You can reduce your dog’s stress and make the visit a positive one with a few simple strategies.

1.  At home, handle your pet on a regular basis.  Examine his toes and ears.  Clip his nails every week or two.  Brush his teeth regularly.  This routine will get him used to human handling, and the veterinarian will have an easier time when it is his turn.  Remember that when he sees other animals, he may react and forget his manners.  Be alert to sudden movements.

2.  Socialize your pet, either in your neighborhood or at a dog park. You want him to be used to other dogs and people.

3.  Does your dog walk well on a leash?  Practice with him, so that you’ll have no difficulty controlling him in the veterinarian’s office.

4.  Obedience training should be required for all medium to large dogs, so that they will obey on command when required.

5.  Acclimate your small dog to a carrier, so that he may be transported safely in the car and into the veterinarian’s clinic.  He will be less stressed if he feels safe in the carrier.  This task can be easily accomplished by leaving the carrier open at home and placing treats inside it for your little canine to find.  Add a soft pad for him to sit on, and he will associate the carrier with something he likes.  When it’s time to go to the vet, closing the door with Fido inside won’t be a problem for him.

6.  Make sure Fido is used to riding in the car.  Take him for regular car rides whenever possible.  Our dogs ride with us to a nearby Starbuck’s drive-through window and look forward to treats handed out by the bank teller at their drive-through window.  Nothing excites our dogs more than hearing the word “car,” so it is never a problem to transport them to the vet’s office.

7.  Be prepared with a list of questions you want to ask your veterinarian.  Make a list, because you will be busy handling your pet and may forget something.  If you are prepared and calm, your dog will pick up on your emotions, and the visit will be a productive one for both of you.

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