5 Things to Help Your Feel More Comfortable Dog at the Vet
I read the most ridiculous article the other day.
Okay, okay, ridiculous might be harsh; but it seemed off the mark to say the least.
Now don’t get me wrong, I empathize. It is my job to sit here and come up with new information to share with dog owners; and I shudder to think I have written some things that would make me giggle, later.
But, I do my best to educate without totally ridiculous expectations.
So in this article were a few times to help your dog at the vet.
Like loose leash walking
And no sniffing….
Clearly this person has never worked at, and I wonder if she has ever been to a vet with a real dog.
Let’s Be Honest
Going to the doctor makes my heart rate rise and my blood pressure sky rocket.
I remember once going in to just talk to a neurologist after I had, had a stroke.
He wasn’t even going to really examine me. But I got cold and sweat ran down my back and in places I wasn’t sure I even had up until that point. I was terrified and I KNEW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.
Now Let Us Imagine Your Dog
Chances are his experiences with the vet aren’t the best.
He goes, he gets stuff put in the “out shoot” or up his rump, he gets restrained, he gets poked, and if you have had him or her neutered he/she has woken up in some serious pain and with disorientation.
I would probably bite and kick too, if I went back to such a place.
So here are some tips from a former vet tech to help your dog!
5. Wear Him Out
Please don’t take him swimming in the stinky mud hole first (said all vet techs) but hook him to a bike, or on a long walk, or play a long game of retrieve until he is very tired (tongue hanging out tired).
Don’t worry, he is an athlete and his heart rate will go down way before you get to the vet, but his body and mind (to some degree will still be tired).
A tired dog puts up with a lot more manipulation and has many less fears than a dog that has just rolled out of bed and is excited to go!
And, please make sure he is clean and dry before any appointment (only dry dogs can have x-rays) so in case your dog needs a radiograph he needs to be clean and dry.
4. Bring His Treats
Pshaw!!!! To the person who says don’t bring treats!!!!
Now, don’t bring fatty gross or dangerous treats like bacon or get ready for a lecture from your vet.
But no one has or ever will say you can’t bring some chicken breast or cheese as a light reward.
Even if his vet said NO FOOD because he is having blood drawn, he can have treats directly after.
The only time it is never, ever, ever okay is if he is to have surgery. Then his tummy needs to be empty for his safety.
Use his treat when he shows good behavior and when he is being examined so he has a happy connotation with vet exams.
I’ve even slathered peanut butter on the roof of the mouth as the vet examines… how is that for positive reinforcement and thinking his vet rocks!
3. Bring His Toys
Bring his favorite toy! His vet would like to mention that he can have it unless he is possessive of it ;) and he will need to drop it for his dental examine and when he/she listens to his heart and lungs.
The first time my puppy got examined he had a toy shoved into his face 99% (he only dropped it to have his mouth examined) of the time and he was thrilled with that!
I shudder to say this too; but bring his bed! If you have been working biofeedback at home; this will help too for more on that click here.
Both of these things make him feel at home and comfortable.
You know how long you are going to have to wait for your appointment anyway right? Why not show him where to lay (unless he uses a twin sized bed there should be room).
I have never seen a vet say “Ma’am, Ma’am” “We don’t allow treats, toys, and beds here; we want to make this as difficult on everyone as possible…”
My dog’s love their toys and can lightly fling them around and chew on them; imagine that this is like having an IPAD for a toddler waiting in the emergency room.
Do whatever soothes the moment and makes things better and easier on everyone.
2. Do Not Only Visit for Serious Exams
The people who work in vet clinics are like the people that work in the big pet retail food businesses.
You rarely go to these big box stores and see the employees shy away from a dog or cat or iguana for that matter. They are working there because they love animals.
Now multiply that by 10,000 that is how much your vet and vet techs and staff love animals. They dedicate their lives and low pay (you may think you are paying a ton but remember your vet is in school as long as your doctor but isn’t compensated nearly the same) and beat down cars to make sure your pet is cared for.
We love, love, loved when pets would come to say HI and just get a cookie. Now don’t get me wrong; there were times we were busy with emergencies… but almost always someone was available to give cookies and pets!
You see, if you only go to the vet when your dog is distressed or about to be poked… he associates negative things with the vet. If, however, he comes in 3 times a month or more for cookies and socialization and petting and fun with his favorite techs… then he doesn’t matter so much when once a year or once every 3 years he gets a poke or two.
Make the vet hospital and staff fun.
1. Let Them Take Him
If he needs a nail trim, he needs his anal glands expressed, he needs his blood drawn or whatever… let them take him!
They are not flogging dogs in the back room, nor is probably anything else going on back there at the same time.
But being away from you can calm him.
See, when he is with you; he has to make sure you are safe, and you are happy, and he doesn’t allow those bad people to hurt you and he worries for himself too.
So some dogs that are horribly aggressive in the room with their owners are perfectly happy in the back for a moment away; because you have taken away what they were guarding.
And, chances are it will be faster.
I had an owner once demand to be present for a blood draw for her dog. The poor tech was so nervous and poked the dog so many times the owner about passed out. I told the owner everyone was feeding off of her so with her permission could we take him in the back and she could watch through a window. The tech hit the vein first time that time and the owner never asked again.
Dogs struggle often because they want to see you, but it is easier on everyone sometimes if the dog can be isolated for a short time to get something done.
I can trim a dog’s nails in 2 minutes flat, probably. Now put a neurotic owner in the room with me that gasps every time the dog flinches or makes a noise and I need a xanex before each nail trim.
If you trust your vet, shouldn’t you trust them and their staff to handle your dog for a moment or two?
I’ve been known to draw my own dog’s blood and urine but I am the exception to the rule ;) remember there is always an exception. I usually get a job offer after too!
**** Best Tip Ever
This is my favorite tip, and it works well almost all of the time.
To get things done fast; let them muzzle your dog.
It doesn’t mean your dog is aggressive.
Let me say that again
IT DOESN’T MEAN YOUR DOG IS AGGRESSIVE
It means that the dog is adamant about not letting something happen, and a muzzle preoccupies his mind.
Dogs doesn’t want his nails trimmed? Put on a muzzle and get it done in a fraction of the time.
Got a squiggler for a blood draw? Put on a muzzle and hit the vein before he even feels you poke him.
Need to get x-rays on a dog quickly? Put a muzzle on him and he will be less worried about what you are doing to his body and more perplexed with what is on his face.
A muzzle is not only for aggressive dogs, a muzzle can and is often used more on the over excited can’t stand still dog so that he doesn’t hurt himself!
It is a great trick to know and use!
Use it at home if you need to get something done quick and you will see how effective it is; it is a shame so many people have such negative connotations about a muzzle.
Oh yeah, and no one at the vet cares if your dog pulls on his leash ;) we expect it in one direction or another and we prefer if it is toward the back of the hospital and not in an attempt to run away (that dog needs more treats!)
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.