How to reduce stress for your dog at the vet
Most dogs aren't that keen on going and start trembling even before you cross the threshold. David Tomlinson advises on how you can calm your dog at the vet
It is always amusing sitting in the waiting room of a veterinary surgery and seeing the various customers come in.
Many gundogs, of course, are petrified of visiting the vet and are well aware of where they are as soon as the car arrives in the vet’s car park. These are the dogs that have to be dragged, carried or cajoled into the waiting room, where they sit shivering with nerves.
Some dogs enjoy the visit
I have had dogs like this, as well as the opposite: the dogs that positively enjoy going to the vet because they love the variety of other dogs and creatures that they encounter there. It takes a firm lead to persuade these dogs not to check out the cat carriers and the rabbit baskets, let alone the other dogs.
I had one spaniel that was a keen investigator. On one occasion my wife took her to the vet for a routine visit and was joined in the waiting room by a man carrying a large and lively pillow case. The spaniel was fascinated, and in the end my wife had to ask what was in it. “A python” was the pithy answer. End of conversation.
Make the vet visits enjoyable
If your dog is one with a deep fear of visiting the vet, the advice is to try to make its visits more enjoyable. Give it really tasty treats when it arrives in the waiting room and ask the receptionist to do the same. A simple dog biscuit may not be enough, but some pieces of gammon or chicken are unlikely to be ignored. If they are, you can be sure that there will be another dog that will appreciate them.
In really serious cases of veterinary fear, it is recommended that you visit the vet regularly but don’t go any further than the waiting room, where you can give the dog its treats. You will have to arrange this with the receptionist beforehand, but most are pleased to help in such situations.
Sit with the dog for five or so minutes, give it another treat, then take it home. With luck it will then start to associate its visits with something more agreeable than being poked and prodded or having a needle stuck in it.