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Making the Vet a Dog’s Best Friend

OK, it might be a bit much to expect a dog to become seriously fond of the  the guy who prods him for no apparent reason, and inserts foreign objects into his genitalia.  While you can’t change the unpleasant nature of your vet’s job, you can try to make sure your dog has as pleasant an experience as is possible when he goes to the vet’s office.

Choose the Right Vet

Your vet is going to be the second most important person in your dog’s life, after you.  He’s not just the guy who prescribes medication when your dog falls ill, but also helps prevent diseases by examining your dog, and catching an infection before its too late.  Make sure you’re comfortable with his vet.

When looking around for a vet, check his clinic and waiting rooms. Do they look clean and airy?  Does the waiting room have separate areas for dogs and cats, or will your dog be sharing space with an entire posse of screeching cats? What about the staff?  Are there enough vets and vet assistants, and do they seem professional and experienced?  Does the clinic specialize in many different veterinary medicine fields, or offer just basic veterinary services?  Do they have a diagnostic lab on site, to collect and examine stool and blood samples? Do they offer emergency services?

Taking Your Pup to the Vet

If your puppy is still just a few weeks old, you have either taken him to a vet for his first physical, or are planing on doing so.  Keep these things in mind to have a pleasant vet visit.

Help your new puppy socialize with other people.  This doesn’t mean only members of your family, but also your neighbors, friends etc.  A puppy who has very limited exposure to strangers is more likely to feel threatened and nervous in the presence of a vet. 

Practice mock physical examinations in  your home. Lie your dog down, and examine his eyes, mouth, teeth, and paws. Rub his belly, and feel around his abdomen the way a vet does.  Having all these things done in the security and comfort  of home can make a dog feel less threatened when he’s splayed out on the vet’s table and being prodded with steel objects.

Practice having him on a leash. You will likely have to wait for your turn, and there will be other animals there.  If he’s small enough, put him in a crate, and carry him to the vet’s office. 

Take him for a walk, and try to collect a stool sample before you leave for the vet’s office. If it’s a first time visit, your vet will likely need a stool sample, and it saves you the trouble of having to visit again with a fresh sample. 

If your dog still hasn’t been socialized and is aggressive towards others, keep him in the car, and inform the staff that you’ve arrived for your appointment.  You can take him into the office when your turn comes around.

Take him out for short drives regularly, or you risk having him think that you’re off for a vet visit every time he gets in the car. Associating a car with unpleasant experiences is one reason why dogs develop separation anxiety. A dog who’s afraid of cars needs a whole other regimen of training to recondition his behavior.  By taking frequent joy rides, your dog doesn’t become anxious as soon as he gets into the car.

Take along a few treats for your dog to snack on while he’s in the waiting room.  It helps kill off some of the anxiety he may feel. 

Keep a few chewy toys handy, so he can occupy himself.

At the Vet’s Office

Talk to your pet throughout the examination in comforting tones, and reassure him. 

If he needs an overnighter, make sure he has his security blanket or favorite toy to remind of home, and feel comfortable in an unfamiliar surrounding.