Dogs are one of the most popular pets in the world. They come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny chihuahuas to giant saint bernards. And they can be found living with people in every corner of the globe. Dogs may love going everywhere with you, but that doesn’t mean a trip to the veterinarian is always pleasant for them! One study found that over half of dogs show signs of anxiety when seeing their vet. No wonder some vets have started using aromatherapy oils or calming music during visits! But what else can you do? Here are some ways you can make it easier on your dog next time you take them for a check-up!
Play With Them First
Remember how much fun it was when you were a kid and your parents would tell you to get in the car because it’s time for a doctor’s visit? Well, dogs don’t know any better. If they see you putting on shoes, picking up their leash, or grabbing your keys, they might start to realize that a trip to the vet is in their near future. You can save yourself some stress by just playing with your dog first. They’ll be too tired and happy from playing to even think about where they are going.
Keep Them Relaxed
If you know that your dog is particularly anxious, you have to keep them relaxed. If not, they might tear out the stitches from their recent surgery or knock over a bunch of expensive equipment at the vet’s office. So you want to be sure to keep them calm. Veterinarians have lots of tricks for doing this, such as offering anti-anxiety treats and playing calming music during the visit. If your dog is very skittish about the situation, you can ask your vet for some ideas ahead of time to keep them relaxed through the whole process.
Praise And Treats
When you bring your dog into the waiting room, try to make sure that everyone there is greeting them warmly and giving them treats. Let them know that they were good by giving them treats or taking them for another walk so they can be happy and burn off all that pent-up energy before their next meal! Not only will this get them used to the idea of more people in their space, but it will also reinforce the idea that going to the vet is a good thing! Another way to do this is once you are home after the visit.
Use Relaxing Scents
Anxiety is something that humans are well-acquainted with, but not all of us realize that our dogs can experience it. If your vet has told you that your dog is anxious or showing other signs of stress, try giving them some calming scents before their next check-up. Veterinarians often use aromatherapy to help dogs relax, which means you can try lavender, chamomile, or even just a nice massage. The key is to give them something relaxing when it comes time for the big event.
Take Them A Couple Days Early
If you know that the vet particularly stresses your dog, try taking them in a few days before your scheduled appointment. This way, they can get used to the office and become familiar with the sounds of other dogs barking or people talking on their cell phones while they wait. Maybe even take them on a little walk around the building to get used to the smells. By the time your appointment rolls around, they will already be comfortable with where they are going. However, you should always ask your vet before doing this to make sure it is okay with them that you show up days before your actual appointment.
Make Them Comfortable With Their Crate
A carrier is simply a vehicle to the veterinarian for many animals since it is the only time they are in one. Pets who are familiar with their carriers are more relaxed while traveling in them when compared to those who are unfamiliar with them. That’s why many dogs avoid the area as soon as the carrier appears from the basement. One solution is to incorporate the carrier into the family furniture. Though you may not want it in your formal living area, make room for it in a location where your pet sees it frequently, such as the laundry room.
If your dog tends to dart away when you try to take them to the vet, one of the best ways to associate vet visits with positive feelings is through training. One option is clicker training. Once they are calm and settled in their crate, let them know that good behavior equals treats with a simple click. Then, pick up a small treat and hold it just above their nose. As soon as they begin to sniff the treat, click again and give them the prize. You can repeat this process until you are ready to go to your appointment, at which point you can start giving them the treat immediately before putting them in the carrier.
Some pets, particularly those with more than one pet in the household, may require a little more assistance than a caring owner can give. If your pet is one of these, ask your veterinarian to prescribe a low-dosage anti-anxiety medication for your next visit. You’ll need to talk with your veterinarian about some of these ideas before implementing them, but most vets shouldn’t have any problems prescribing this. Veterinarians care about animals and dislike seeing them frightened. Anything that may help a terrified puppy become a happy pet is something they should support.
Seeing the vet can be a scary time for your dog. However, there are many things that you can do to help the visit go smoothly. Using the tips listed above should help reduce a lot of the fear they are experiencing. If one method doesn’t work, try implementing multiple of these each time they have an appointment. Remember, your best tool for helping your dog relieve their anxiety is your vet. So always discuss with them the signs of fear your dog is showing about coming in, and they can help guide you in the best ways to make it easier on them!