How to visit the vet – stress free!

Five tips for stress-free vet visits

Vet visits can be stressful for many dogs (not unlike visits to the dentist, for some humans).

Strange smells, a waiting room full of other dogs and animals, can all add up to making a trip to the vets stressful. On top of that, if your dog is unwell and feeling under the weather or associates the vets with being poked and prodded it’s no wonder that they will be anxious.

Our Behaviour & Welfare Manager, Susan McKeon, has five top tips to help make vet visits calmer for both you and your dog.

1. Pick your appointment time

For routine and non-emergency vet visits ask for an appointment time when the surgery is less busy. Generally, the first or last appointment of the day are good times (with the exception of Monday mornings).

2. An alternative waiting room

If you know that your dog does not like the vets, or if the waiting room is busy it is much better to use your car as an alternative ‘waiting room’ and remain with your dog until you are called for your appointment.

3. Entrances and Exits

If your dog really struggles with walking through a busy waiting room, many vets have a ‘back door’ that can be used instead. Check with your vet beforehand and, if necessary, use this alternative entrance to enter and exit. Better still, some vets will see their patients in the back of the owner’s car, so do check whether your vet is able to do this.

4. Handling

Help your dog become used to being touched, particularly their paws, ears and teeth., before any vet visits. You can do this at home, remembering to feed your dog a treat after each touch. If your dog is worried by being handled, ensure that they are wearing an appropriate Baskerville type muzzle before they go into the vet exam room, and if you know that your dog is worried by men (or women) ask for a female vet or vice versa.

5. Reassurance and treats

Learn to recognise the signs of stress in your dog. Contrary to popular belief, reassuring a worried dog will not increase or reinforce their fear. If your dog enjoys being gently petted or spoken to, do continue to do this. Also make sure that you bring a mix of your dog’s favourite treats with you and feed your dog treats during the examination (check with your vet first).