Low Stress Vet Visits for Dogs
what you can do: tips for dog owners
- Start young, visit often, and make every visit as enjoyable as possible. Socialize your puppy to being handled and examined.
- Avoid dragging or pushing your dog onto the scale or into the exam room. Try coaxing him with a tasty treat.
- Food rewards are a powerful tool if your dog isn't experiencing digestive upset or having surgery the day of your visit. They can help your dog calm down and focus on you and vet staff. They can also be used to train him to cooperate for exams and treatments. Please let us know if you have a peanut allergy, as we sometimes use peanut butter.
- After entering the exam room, drop your dog’s leash and allow him to sniff around and get his bearings. If he starts pacing, prompt him to sit next to you and gently keep him there, with a hand on his collar, slow pets, and periodic treats.
- Never punish or reprimand a frightened dog. Even if it causes him to submit in the short-term, it will make him more fearful for future veterinary visits.
- If your dog needs to wear a muzzle, considering rescheduling your appointment and taking some time at home to condition (acclimate) him/her to the muzzle first (see video below). This will significantly reduce the level of your dog’s stress when he has to wear it at the vet.
- Consider scheduling a counter-conditioning technician appointment if your dog is particularly nervous.
- As a consideration to feline patients, please prevent your dog from approaching cat carriers in the lobby. Most cats are not happy to be inspected by strange dogs!
articles and videos
- APDT article: Help Your Dog Love Visiting the Veterinarian
- Acclimating a dog to wearing a muzzle: Dr. Sophia Yin article