Some dogs do great at the vet yet for others, a visit to the vet strikes fear and panic into normally calm and happy dogs. If taking your dog to the vet triggers as much dread in you as it does your dog, these tips may help.
1. Start young and include vet visits in the dog’s socialization plan. Bring your dog by the vet’s office just to be weighed and say hi. Take a few favorite treats, such as liver or hot dogs, for the staff to give your dog. Carry your dog until Parvo immunity is built up as there is no need to subject a young pup to germs on the ground and in the animal hospital. It’s a good idea to give the vet’s office a call to ensure the time is right before heading in.
2. Handle your dog often starting as a puppy to get your dog used to his ears and paws being touched and tummy palpated. Move legs and joints.
3. Take your dog’s temperature at home. You get your dog accustomed to having his temperature taken by occasionally taking it at home.
4. Teach dogs to allow their mouths to be handled. You should be able to touch the muzzle and remove things from the mouth easily.
5. Brush teeth. Keep teeth cleaned and brushed as this will also help your dog become accustomed to having his mouth handled as well as promote good oral hygiene and protect teeth and gums from disease. If you need to practice, put a little peanut butter or yogurt on your finger and rub it on the dog’s teeth or gums like a treat.
6. Get your dog accustomed to people leaning over him, rubbing his legs, paws, etc.
7. Pick up your dog from time to time, if possible, to get him used to being handled in that way.
8. In routine training, teach your dog to relax and lie on his side (and then roll over to the other side) so that it doesn’t seem strange if he’s examined by the vet in this position.
9. Other great things you can train your dog to do that come in handy at the vet is sit, stand, shake, turn around, and watch me (meaning the dog turns his head to look at you).
10. Bring favorite treats, a favorite toy, or other items your dog loves to distract him from what’s going on around him.
11. Familiarize your dog with a muzzle at home and during training sessions so if he ever needs one, it’s not traumatic.
12. Crate train your dog or at minimum have your dog accustomed to a crate as this is a useful skill for your dog to learn and feel comfortable with for the times they must be crated at the vet.
13. If your dog is healthy, after leaving the vet do something fun, new and exciting with your dog or go get a special treat to end the visit on a happy note.
14. Keep your dog busy at the vet by practicing training and tricks while you wait.
15. Give your dog a massage to help him relax.
16. Try a Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap.
17. For extreme cases, talk to your vet about medication options.