By Amy Wence, Jennifer Lueck and Stephanie Challand
Recently Stephanie posed a question to the Loving Paws crew about how to help her dog Lance with his anxiety at the vet. Laura was out of town and couldn’t participate in the email exchange, but Jennifer, Stephanie and Amy shot several emails back and forth with ideas. In the end, we came up with some ideas that we think could help a lot dogs with vet anxiety. Here are a few tips that might make your next vet visit go a little smoother.
Favorites: Bring your dog’s favorite toys, treats, food items, animal buddy…whatever you think will make your dog more comfortable. You can play with the toy while they wait or feed them delicious treats and before you know it, your dog will love going to the vets office because that’s where their favorite things happen!
Bath Mat: Although it may seem a little strange, a bath mat or similar item can be used to place on the cold, stainless steel exam tables at the vet’s office. Your pet will be more comfortable and less likely to slip off the table.
Play Doctor With Your Dog: If you have a dog that is uncomfortable being handled by veterinary staff, then help them overcome that fear by playing veterinarian with them. If you can, get a hold of fake syringes and pretend like you are drawing blood. Use a fake stethoscope and wear a white smock or coat. By getting your dog used to these things in a place where they are comfortable, like home, these things won’t be so unfamiliar when they encounter them at the vet. You can even have other people try these mock exams on your dog in different places.
Vet Visits Just for Fun: Bring your dog to the vet every so often just to get treats and be petted. They will learn to associate the vets office with affection and food, rather than scary things.
- Visits to the vet or groomer
- Stress caused by loud noises
- Excessive barking or hissing caused by stress
- After a shock, fright, or mistreatment
- Loss of companion
- Separation anxiety
- Adapting to new surrounding
Muzzle: A muzzle can be a very useful tool to have on hand. Any animal is capable of biting under the right circumstances and why take that risk when the animal is injured or uncomfortable with strangers handling them. For dogs that are fearful or aggressive, a muzzle may be necessary to protect veterinary staff, yourself, and the dog. It would be wise to desensitize your dog to a muzzle in case you should ever have to use one. This can be done very easily by feeding your dog wonderful things from the muzzle. You can freeze wet food in it and let your dog eat from it. Or you can feed your dog a few treats everyday from the muzzle and gradually build up to the point of strapping it on the dog briefly. Basket muzzles are most comfortable for dogs to wear because they can still breathe and eat easily while wearing it. http://www.kvsupply.com/KVVet/family/1505/Italian%20Basket%20Muzzlee