Believe it or not, we know plenty of dogs who LOVE visiting us at Badger Vet! However, we know many others for whom a visit to the vet is no fun. No one, including us, wants to see dogs in such distress over a visit to the clinic.
If your pup falls into the "hate the vet" camp, here are some tips for making vet visit days better and maybe helping your four-legged friend love us just a little bit.
Choose the Right Vet
Dr. Kayla (Kaminski) Rothstein with Badger Veterinary Hospital in Beloit shares what characteristics you should look for in a veterinarian for your dog:
"Throughout the duration of a pet’s life, there can be many exciting, confusing, or even scary situations. Therefore, you should be very comfortable, both personally and professionally, with the veterinarian you choose.
"Look for a veterinarian who:
- Has similar ethics, beliefs, and standards
- Is attentive to the individual needs of your pet and specifically tailors the visit around those requirements
- Listens to and addresses your concerns
- Discusses the possibilities of what could be causing your pet’s illness(es)
- Offers options for diagnosing the problem and appropriate treatment
- Educates you about the illness and what you should expect in the future
- Allows you to be actively involved in your pet’s health and treatments
- Follows up with you after your pet’s visit to the clinic
"A good vet should leave you feeling well-informed and confident in your pet’s health. For the best continuity of care, it is important to try to maintain a relationship with one veterinarian for the duration of your pet’s life."
Is your dog skittish, anxious, or even just overly excited? Then equally important is a veterinarian’s bedside manner. Find a veterinarian who is calm and one whom your pet seems to like. A good vet knows how to soothe stressful situations, and the clinic staff should be sensitive to the needs of your dog.
Schedule a Get-Acquainted Visit
Talk with your veterinarian about bringing your dog in for a get-acquainted visit. Allow your dog to sniff around the lobby, meet the vet and staff, and have a pleasant experience free of poking and prodding.
Make your dog think that the vet clinic is a place where wonderful things happen. Have everyone your dog meets give him or her an extra special treat -- you want your dog to learn that he or she gets the most delicious treats at the vet. If your dog loves tennis balls or squeaky toys, have the vet and vet tech give one to your dog in the exam room.
Beyond the initial meet and greet, take your dog into the vet’s office every once in a while for some quick pats and treats from the staff … maybe even a weight check! Your dog should think of the vet as a normal and fun place to visit, not a scary one.
Always Leave On a Positive Note
Vet visits can be stressful for dogs of any age and for many reasons, according to Dr. Rothstein:
"The stress of a veterinary visit can start well before the patient ever sets foot in the clinic, resulting from a change in their daily routine or the 'dreaded' car ride. Once in the clinic, there are a multitude of triggers that can cause a dog to become frightened or stressed: loud noises, unusual smells, not-so-friendly interactions with other patients in the lobby, or even greetings from 'strange' receptionists, technicians, and veterinarians without first having proper time to adjust."
If your dog has a bad reaction or is frightened by something during their veterinary visit, don’t leave right away. Find an area where your dog is willing to take treats, even if it’s just outside the clinic, and wait until he or she calms down a little before leaving.
Also, make vet days "fun days" for your dog. Follow your vet visit with a favorite activity, such as a trip to the dog park or a walk. Knowing that something good will follow a vet visit can help your dog feel better.
Alleviate Stress Through Training
Train your dog to do things related to the exam process:
- "Step up" onto a small platform, which works well for getting on the scale
- "Shake" to present a paw for blood draws
- "Down/Stay" for vaccinations, exams, and anything that requires your dog to remain still
In addition to making your visits to the vet less stressful, performing these behaviors on cue can help shorten your visit. It also gives your dog something else to think about while he or she waits for the doctor, a welcome distraction for both your dog and you.
Join us on Tuesday, January 24 at 5:30 pm in our Janesville clinic for "Surviving Puppyhood," a seminar for new and prospective puppy owners, with John Lawrence of Rover Rehab of Wisconsin Dog Training. Learn more about the event at www.facebook.com/BadgerVet/events.