Minimising the Stress of Vet Visits for your Dog

Tips for making your dog’s vet visit as stress free as possible.

We know that dogs can be stressed in many scenarios but many can be particularly stressed at the vet’s. Not every dog bounces enthusiastically through our door for treats but there are things that we can all do to help minimise your dog’s stress, fear and anxiety and make the visit more relaxed for everyone.
Let us know when you make your dog’s appointment if you have any concerns with how they will cope during their visit, for example are they reactive to other animals or people, how have they responded at previous visits. We can offer help on how to manage your visit, try and book you in at times when there are less other animals waiting and make management suggestions. Eg. using the Adaptil pheromone prior to arrival to help reduce anxiety or using Zylkene, a capsule containing a milk protein shown to promote relaxation for a few days before the visit. In extreme cases of anxiety there are some prescription medications that can be used – either on the day or for a few days prior. 
 If there is something your pet really likes, bring it along. High value treats or favourite toys can help them feel more relaxed. If they are matt trained, bring their matt along for a familiar place to sit.
Be aware of your dog’s body language so you can interpret whether they are relaxed or stressed. (Refer to the picture attached.)
Consider a little walk on arrival before coming into the clinic to allow your dog to toilet and to shake off a little stress.
When you arrive, check in at reception first but feel free to wait outside or ask for an alternative place to wait if your dog is stressed in the waiting room.
Let the vet know at the beginning of the consultation if you have any worries with how your pet is coping or if you’ve had any previous stressful experiences. We can work with you to try and minimise stress. It may be examining your pet on the floor instead of the table, taking things slowly or even conducting the check up outside.
If your dog is too stressed for an examination or procedure plan an alternative strategy with the vet. This may be using sedation or rescheduling the appointment and starting with a different strategy next time. There are previsit medication options that can help stop a dog’s stress response building to unmanageable levels.
If your pet is being admitted to the clinic for the day a later admission time may help reduce their stress associated with being hospitalised.
It’s important for us all to take the time after the consultation or visit to spend some time with your pet and give them treats and pats if they are relaxed enough to do so. This will dilute down the stressful component of their visit.

Your dog is welcome to visit either clinic to socialise anytime. This may just be coming in and being weighed and having a treat but it builds confidence in your dog and you as an owner and allows your pet a visit that is not associated with any procedures or medication.

While not all dogs will be fully relaxed at the prospect of a visit to the vet we hope to make their visit as stress free as possible and keep their tail wagging.