How to Make Vet Visits Less Scary

Does your dog hate the vet? Here are 5 tips from Whole Dog Journal to help make your dog’s vet visit stress-free.

Vet visits can be stressful for the beings on both ends of the leash! Veterinary care is a necessary part of responsible dog ownership, and, fortunately, a little pro-active planning and training can help reduce vet-related anxiety for both dogs and their owners. The following tips will help prepare you and your dog for your next visit.

  1. Research your ideal veterinary care for your dog.
    Do you have strong opinions about certain facets of animal care, including feeding raw diets, waiting until a certain age to spay/neuter, or using holistic healthcare rather than Western medicine approaches? It’s perfectly fine to have preferences as to how you’d like to address your dog’s healthcare needs. That said, it’s wise to work with a vet who shares, or at least respects your point of view.
  2. Plan for the cost of your dog’s veterinary care.
    Nobody likes to be hit with an unexpected vet bill, but accidents and illnesses happen, so it’s important to be prepared. Pet insurance can be a great way to ease the financial sting of costly vet bills. It is a relatively inexpensive way to secure the peace of mind with knowing you are better prepared to provide for your pets medical needs. If insurance doesn’t feel like the right choice, consider establishing a separate savings account specifically for your pet’s unexpected medical needs.
  3. Don’t waint until your dog’s minor illness or injury becomes a major one.
    To go or not to go to the vet can be a stressful decision. It can be tempting to take a wait-and-see approach to seemingly minor medical issues. While it is one thing to feel confident in your ability to manage minor issues in an effort to avoid higher cost of emergency care, waiting can often make things worse, and therefore you’d be facing a much higher vet bill.
  4. Familiarize your dog with the veterinarian’s office before your next appointment.
    A simple way to help prevent or reduce vet-related anxiety is to visit the office when your dog doesn’t have a medical reason to be there. Pay attention to where the visit first starts to seem scary for your dog and start there. If he’s fine until you reach the doorway, plan your party for the area just outside of the office, being careful to stay out of the way of clients coming in and out. After a short, fun=fest, return to the car, wait a few minutes, and play again or simply drive home. This isn’y always the most convenient training session, but as compassionate dog owners, we owe it to our canine friends to look after their emotional health and well-being as well.
  5. Teach your dog calm acceptance of being handled and restrained.
    So much of what goes into a vet exam can be made easier for your dog when he’s familiar and comfortable being handled in different ways. Make it a habit to touch your dog all over his body as part of your everyday affection routine, including his belly, ears, feet, and face. Teach your dog to be comfortable being restrained by holding him tight to your body, securing his head for a short period of time, and then giving a treat. Think of training time as a way to help inoculate your dog against future stress!