Most dogs do not visit the vet very often, and when it’s time for them to go for their vaccinations or a check up, it can be quite daunting for them. They generally do not choose to go themselves, so they are trusting us to keep them safe as they wander into the unknown. The worse thing you can do, is lose your cool or panic as well because of how others might perceive your dog while he is acting out in fear or nervousness, this will only set you up for failure for the next visit.
If you have a dog who is generally fearful, and he is only going for a check up or vaccinations, it is a good idea to give him some calming medication like CalmEze, Nutricalm or even Rescue remedy. Do not do this if your dog is already lethargic though. If you feel your dog might not cope at all, rather let reception know you are there and wait outside with your dog. This would be the same for reactive dogs.
If your dog is not going in for surgery, and is allowed food, have some super yummy small bits of treats with you, and keep your dog occupied with the treats. If he is not too stressed and able to focus on you a bit, you can even ask him to do some behaviours or tricks he might know. Make sure the tricks are not excitable, so that the other animals in the waiting room do not get excited and avoid taking your dog’s squeaky toy with.
If your dog is not keen on food, you can do some massages on your dogs’ ears. Their ears have many many nerve endings and gently massaging them will help to calm down the whole body. Very gently, slide the dog’s ear between your thumb and index finger, starting from the base of the ear towards the tip of the ear and follow the ear’s natural placement. Avoid pulling or pressing hard onto the ear, and breathe deep calm breaths. Move along with your dog’s head movements, do not restrain your dog’s head to do the massages. To see how this is done watch the video below.
Please do keep your dog on leash at all times, even if your dog is friendly, do not allow him to go up to other dogs, or wander off without you noticing. There have been so many times when I have had to ask people to please keep their dogs with them, because the dog I had with me was in pain, feeling irritated or were just not friendly towards other dogs. Please do respect other patients and their owners’ space.
Some dogs might become quite vocal when they are in the vet’s reception, and this could either be excitement to see all the other animals, or nervousness because of all the animals. The best thing to do would be to try and calm them by trying any of the above mentioned ideas, please do avoid punishing your dogs for being vocal.
Feel free to send in scenarios you might be dealing with and we could do a follow up blog post on giving ideas on how to possibly help.
More about vets, why not check out this blog post on How to Choose a Vet.