5 Simple Tips To Keeping Your Anxious Dog Calm At The VET
No matter what you do, the moment your dog gets into the car, it’s like they can read your mind in knowing they are going to the vet, which leads to instant panic. Well, we have put together a list of simple and effective tips to help calm your anxious dog and make the vet visits a whole lot more bearable.
We’ve all been through the anxiety, stress and nerves associated with the vet’s office - and those are just our own emotions!
The dreaded vet visits, which are potentially worse than taking your own kid to the doctor, tend to bring about endless anxiety from the moment you get in the car. And no matter what you do, your precious pooch seems to always experience stress.
Which is why we have put together these top tips to help calm your dog and make both of your lives much easier.
1. Get your dog used to travelling in the car
If your dog only associates car rides with vet visits, chances are highly likely that the car is his first sign of anxiety.
Get your dog used to travelling in the car and start taking him or her to fun places like the park, a new place to walk (Walkhaven in JHB is always our go-to walk spot) or even the beach if you are lucky enough to live near the ocean.
This will help your dog to associate car rides with good times and not just stressful vet visits.
2. Choose the right vet
The same way that we like to feel comfortable with our medical professional, your dog is looking for a similar level of comfort and connection.
You need to choose a vet that your dog is comfortable with and connects with. If your vet seems to really stress your dog out, then try going to a different one and observe your dog’s reactions and stress levels. Granted, the vet’s office is a scary place for a number of dogs, but having a vet your dog is comfortable with will help ease some of the stress and tension.
3. Visit your vet regularly
Stop putting off those routine healthcare visits for things like vaccinations, dental care and tick and flea control. Vets suggest you take your dog for a check-up at least once a year, but once every 6 months is sometimes advised as this allows your pet to get used to your vet, and more importantly, for your vet to prevent or detect and treat any underlying health concerns.
If you have more than one dog, then it might help to take them both with to the vet even if only one needs medical attention or a check-up.
Another trick is to just stop by for a visit. Phone the receptionist at your vet’s office and ask if you can stop by for a visit with your dog. When you are there give your dog a treat, greet the staff and then you can leave shortly after. This will help your dog to know that going to the vet is not always scary.
Speaking of treats, you can start to associate the vet’s office with treats each time you visit. You can give the vet the treat to give to your dog to help strengthen their bond and allow for your dog to associate these visits with special treats.
4. Conduct a basic physical exam of your dog at home
You can help your dog get used to a physical examination by conducting one regularly in the comfort of your own home. By practising handling your dog and inspecting his ears, tail and body for any strange lumps and bumps, this will make the process when your vet checks your dog, less stressful.
This kind of home-care will also allow you to spend time checking your dog and help you to detect anything that seems out of the ordinary that you otherwise would not have noticed.
Here’s a great article to help you give your dog a thorough home check.
5. Stay calm
Don’t forget that our dogs are incredibly susceptible to our own emotions. If you are feeling anxious and nervous, then chances are your dog is going to pick up on your feelings and start to feel them himself.
Before visiting the vet, try some deep breathing, talk calmly and do not get worked up. It’s fine to reassure your dog and tell him that everything is okay in a calm and relaxed manner but do NOT sound worried or anxious and keep repeating that everything is going to be okay. Your dog will notice that this behaviour is out of the ordinary and will know something is up.
We hope these tips and tricks help calm your anxious dog and make your next vet visits more manageable.
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