Tips on Reducing the Stress of Vet Visits for Your Dog

The website Companion Animal Psychology is a great resource for dog and cat owners interested in learning how to better understand their pets.

The site recently published some helpful advice on how to ensure that your dog is as calm as possible during trips to the vet’s office.  The tips are based on research published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, which you can find HERE.

The researchers found that many factors can increase your dog’s stress at the vet, including prior negative experiences, the dog’s individual genetic makeup, and upsetting sights, sounds, smells, etc. at the vet.

Another cause of fear is something called “trigger stacking”—the combination of stressful experiences that can go into a vet visit (being put in a carrier, being restrained, etc.).

Here are just a few recommendations for helping dogs that feel anxiety about going to the vet.  Be sure to read the full article for more information!

  • Avoid feeding before a visit so your dog will be interested in treats given by staff at the vet’s office.  Treats are good rewards after unpleasant procedures like vaccinations.
  • Bring a blanket or toys from home to help comfort your dog.
  • Stay with your dog during the exam/consultation, and any other procedures if possible.

  • Get your dog used to car rides, carriers, and routine physical handling before trips to the vet.  Nail trimming and ear cleaning at the vet’s office can help accustom your dog to being there.
  • Very stressed dogs can wait in the car rather than the waiting room.  Muzzles and sedation can also be helpful in extreme cases.

 

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