Vet visits can be stressful for your dog. Between strange smells and sounds, new dogs and people, and the actual medical procedures your dog has to undergo, visiting the vet can be traumatic, especially for highly excitable dogs.
While your dog might never learn to love trips to the vet clinic, here are steps you can take to alleviate vet anxiety and reduce stress for your furry friend.
Whenever possible, try scheduling vet visits during off-peak times to minimize the stressors your dog will experience. In general, early morning and late afternoon appointments mean the vet clinic will be less chaotic. In addition, weekday daytime appointments are typically less busy than weekends.
Scheduling appointments during off-peak times means your dog will be exposed to fewer stressors, from loud noises to new people. If you’re not sure what time would be best for your appointment, let the staff know about your dog’s vet anxiety in advance.
Most dogs dread the vet because they’re poked, prodded, and bombarded by strange smells and sounds. To reduce stress during vet appointments, take your dog in to visit staff regularly. Bring some of your pup’s favorite treats along, and let your dog sniff around and say hello to the staff.
Start at a level your dog feels comfortable with, whether that’s spending a few minutes outside the clinic or visiting the lobby, and work your way up. Once your dog becomes more familiar with the vet’s office, vet visits will become a much more positive experience.
Some pet owners react to anxious pets by pulling on the leash or raising their voices. Instead of reacting to your dog’s vet anxiety, take a deep breath and stay calm. If you’re stressed or anxious at the vet clinic, your dog will probably pick up on your emotions and feel even more anxious.
Learn to identify the signs of anxiety in dogs, such as yawning, licking, looking away, or raising a front paw. If you notice signs of vet anxiety, let your dog know that you’re there to support him by patting, holding, or talking to him.
Sometimes, dogs can’t help but have an emotional reaction to stressful situations. Teaching your dog to “settle” or calm down can be a useful skill, especially for dogs who are easily stressed or highly excitable.
Start by teaching your dog how to be calm in regular, everyday situations. Then, slowly increase the level of distraction around them. For example, you might practice the skill at home, at a friend’s house, and at the dog park. Over time, your dog will learn how to stay calm and relaxed amid distractions—even at the vet’s office. At TriStar Vet, our animal care experts design and manufacture highly durable, ergonomic vet exam equipment, veterinary exam tables, and other innovative products for vet clinics. Contact us today for affordable, easy-to-clean animal care products that will stand up to the everyday needs of your clinic.