Dogs can be afraid of the vet, this is actually pretty common. This causes them stress and anxiety, the symptoms might appear a few hours before the visit or even much earlier.
Who likes to visit a colorless sterile-looking building related to the sickness and suffering? I think it’s a very unattractive place, and for some dogs is pretty much the same thing. They may get nervous because of all the weird smells, the other animals or just because the checkup is traumatic to them, say getting a thermometer in the anus, a vaccination or even a blood test.
This experience could be more uncomfortable for your dog if he’s sick, however, one of the tips to pick a good veterinarian is making sure he/she cares about your pet’s mental health, in simple words: A good vet will do his best to make your 4-legged friend feel comfortable.
How Does My Dog Know When We’re Visiting The Vet?
You may ask yourself things like “How the hell does my dog know when I’m getting him to the vet? I haven’t mentioned it”. It isn’t that hard for dogs to figure out some things since they read our corporal language all the time, maybe you’ve been sending signs all this time without noticing.
Talking to the veterinarian on the phone, saying some words like “appointment”, “checkup” or “vaccine” could easily be enough for your dog to start feeling anxious.
We should address this problem as soon as possible and so should our vet since anxiety could be a serious long-term issue, fear gets worse when bad experiences keep repeating.
But How Do I Know If My Dog Is Afraid of the Vet?
It’s not really hard to tell but some people could be confused, so there you go:
- Remember that all the symptoms vary from dog to dog.
- Shaking, the most typical one.
- Hiding under things or going into corners.
- Chewing toys (or any other thing) anxiously.
- Downhearted glance / Always looking down.
- Refusing to walk / Avoiding the leash or getting in the car.
- If they’re too scared, some dogs could growl, then attack.
Tips To Help Your Dog To Overcome His Fear Of Vet Visits
Helping your dog through this process starts at home! I’ve split it into three steps to make it easier.
Step 1. What you should do at home.
- The physical examination could feel intimidating to some dogs and that’s one of the main reasons they could be afraid of the vet, so a few days before the visit try to check his paws, gums, ears and eyes just like the vet would do it, this way he/she will feel a little less invaded when the moment arrives. We’ll call this a practice examination.
- If the vet’s office is located in or near a pet store, make at least 2 random visits there during the previous 2 weeks of the official visit. Then get your dog to meet the vet and buy some treats or even a toy for him/her, our final goal is to associate the vet with good things. I know, it doesn’t sound easy but either impossible.
- If your dog’s afraid of the vet because of some of the objects in his office, say a high exam table or a scale, try to make him standing on something similar, the point is, give him a treat after doing it well, just as teaching a new trick.
Step 2. What you should do in the car.
- Believe it or not, some dogs only get in their owner’s car to go to the vet, this is making it too easy for them to associate “car=vet”, so please make sure you ride your dog at least two times per month.
- Act normal. Yes, the whole process of going to the vet is normal, so why talking to your dog like something hard is just about to happen? Some owners could be making their dogs afraid of the vet without knowing it. Remember, they can feel how you feel.
- If your dog gets too anxious or nauseous in your driveway ―and you knew this could happen― it may be a good idea to consider giving him a little treat or even using doggie over-the-counter drugs, those that some persons use when their dogs are gonna be exposed to a lot of fireworks.
Step 3. What you should do at the vet.
- Bring special treats to reward your doggo after the experience, or even to motivate him/she to do some things, like the body temperature checkup. Your vet should have treats too.
- Don’t force it. Let your dog take his time to get into the vet’s office.
- Take him for a walk outside if needed, this should help him to relax.
- Try to avoid waiting in the vet office for more than 5 minutes, arrive at the exact time of your turn.
- And last but not least, you must remain completely quiet and confident, your dog feels your energy so if you tell him “I’m scared, I don’t know what’s gonna happen” you’ll worsen it. The best way to support him is showing that vet visits are normal and he/she shouldn’t be afraid at all. Don’t be nervous!
Remember that overcoming things like this takes some time, also your vet should be committed to help you out with this issue, they know very well that many dogs get nervous about this, so make sure you pick a good veterinarian for your pet! With love and understanding, this fear will eventually be part of the past.