Although I’m a dog trainer, like many dogs, my dog doesn’t particularly enjoy going to the vet. When she was a puppy I worked hard to make the vet a fun place for her, but she is sensitive and after she had knee surgery we had to work hard to get her back into herself to feel safe and comfortable at the vet. Then the pandemic hit. Our veterinary clinics, like most across the country, have switched to roadside levies. This makes use of our usual fearless Logs almost impossible. Fortunately, there are things we can do to make our dog’s vet visits less scary.
Plan ahead when you take your dog to the vet
If possible, plan ahead for your dog and keep them updated on vaccines and spa visits. This will help you stay one step ahead of potential problems. Also, if you have a regular veterinary clinic that knows you and knows your dog, the more likely they can invite you to an appointment in an emergency.
Help make your dog’s vet visit less scary by using positive associations
Whenever possible (and it was earlier but less likely depending on the degree of lockdown in your community), make occasional trips to the veterinary clinic when you don’t have an appointment. Most of the veterinary clinics are very accessible for those informal hello visits and greet the people who come and train their dogs in the clinics. Give your dog a treat at the office, have the receptionists or technicians give your dog treats and go. When the veterinary clinic is fun and attended to regularly, it will reduce the stress associated with being at the clinic.
Use technology to your advantage
Practice the skills your dog needs at the home veterinary clinic, such as rewarding your dog for standing calmly for exams, and make sure to speak directly to your veterinary clinic about the training you are doing and how the clinic is Can support you.
Laura Monaco Torelli, who recently hosted the “Home Keeping for Real Uses” workshop, suggests that dog guards send videos of their training sessions to your veterinarian in advance. That way, they’ll know how to work with your dog in preparation for visits. Using the same pointers and techniques, the staff at the veterinary clinic will help your dog feel more secure and comfortable during the visit. Using technology to your advantage can help your dog get better, faster veterinary care.
Most clinics will also be happy to email you videos before your visit if there are concerns or symptoms that are difficult to describe or that your veterinarian should see, but are difficult to replicate at a clinic.
Advocate for your dog
You are your dog’s best advocate, making sure that their physical and emotional needs are being met and that they are safe and comfortable even after you go to the vet. Although your veterinarian is an expert on your dog’s health, you are the expert on your dog’s emotional wellbeing. Instead of just handing your dog over to the technician at the curb, you can take over the appointment and explain to the vet exactly how your dog needs to be treated during the visit. Are there things that make your dog nervous or uncomfortable? Things To Help Your Dog Feel More Relaxed? It is always appropriate to share all of these things with your vet and the clinic staff.
Have an information sheet for your dog
One of the most frustrating (if understandable) things about the pandemic is knowing that my dog has to go to vet appointments alone and that she cannot clearly tell our vet what is going on, what is hurting, or how they are feeling. Something I’ve found particularly useful during vet visits during the pandemic is helping my pets “talk” to the vet by giving the technician who comes outside a personalized info sheet for my pet.
At the top of the info sheet, I put a picture of my dog, my dog’s name, followed by basic information such as age, type of food we feed, and supplements and medications, including monthly flea / tick and heartworm preventive measures.
The technician will likely ask you for this information. However, if you attach them to your dog as they are seen, you can avoid mistakes or misunderstandings. I also add any data I want to remember, for example that my bitch had both knees surgically reconstructed and that she is nervous about being in the clinic.
Avoid writing an essay. Instead, use bullet points to highlight your concerns so your veterinarian can see them right away. This also gives you a chance to compose your thoughts ahead of time to make sure you don’t forget anything when you talk to the veterinarian, especially since you are not in the exam room with your dog.
Keeping calm will make your dog’s vet visit less scary
Our dogs respond incredibly to us and often feed on our emotions. If we are upset or worried about having to give our dog to the veterinarian staff at the curb, our dogs can feed on that fear. Try to stay calm and confident. Not only will this help your dog have a better veterinarian experience, but it will also make the visits less stressful for both of you.
Featured image: Martin Prescott / Getty Images
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