However, preventative care is important for both you and your dog. As a responsible pet owner, annual visits to your veterinarian are a big part in keeping your dog healthy and happy.
Going to the vet can be overwhelming for your dog. Think about the different smells, the slippery exam tables, and variety of dogs he may encounter. Don't forget the different touches from the vet staff and the veterinarian as they poke, prod and prick him.
Bark Busters offers these tips for making a trip to the vet more relaxing and less stressful:
- Although it may seem obvious, choose the right vet. You want your vet to be up on the latest in the field of veterinary medicine, but equally important is someone who is willing to take time getting to know your dog.
- Before you go to the vet for your first visit, or particularly when your dog is not sick, take him to the vet office for a friendly visit. Bark Busters calls these "meet and greets". Let him get used to the smells and sounds of this new environment so it will not be so foreign to him. Let him meet the people who work there, and have the staff place him on a scale. This will help him associate the vet with a positive experience.
- In the comfort of the dog's home, help your dog get used to being handled for a medical examination. While he is relaxed, pat him on the various parts of his body. Mimic the actions your vet will do in examining your dog - touch around his eyes and ears, gently hold his feet and toes, lift up his lips and touch his teeth, and gently move his legs. Dogs that are handled, petted, and touched all over daily will be less likely to perceive this as invasive, and more likely to regard it as affectionate. Take your time and repeat your actions a couple of times so it becomes a pleasant experience for your dog both at home and at the vet.
- Socialize your dog early on, getting him used to new people and situations. That way, he learns to be more trusting of strangers and is less likely to react violently when you take a trip to the vet.
- Exercise your dog before the visit. Get rid of that excess energy by playing a rousing game of fetch! A tired dog is a relaxed dog.
- Your dog will pick up on your attitude. Throughout the visit, stay as relaxed and nonchalant as possible. Your dog can sense your feelings, so if you stay calm, he will stay calm. Remember you are the pack leader so your dog looks to you to feel safe and secure.
- If you have questions or concerns about your dog, prepare these questions in advance to make sure you address them.
- Always keep your dog on a short leash while in the waiting room to avoid any altercations with other pets. If he shows any sign of aggression towards dogs or humans, be sure to have him muzzled for everyone's safety.
- If your dog is small, take him to the clinic in his carrier. He will feel more comfortable in his "den" with his blanket and toys.
- If you are changing vets, remember your dog's medical records.
- Remember that your vet is busy too. Make it to your appointment on time. If you're late, the vet will probably have less time to meet with you and your pet. The best thing to do is try to be a little bit early, so you're ready when the appointment starts, or you have some leeway if there is a delay in your travelling
- After the visit, reward your dog with a treat or an extra special walk! Make vet days "fun" days.
The vet and clinical staff will appreciate you making the extra effort to ensure your dog is calm and comfortable during the visit.