Dogs react in different ways to a vet visit, and some react by showing anxiety. This can be stressful as a pet owner, as regular vet visits are really important to their health. This short guide offers a few things you can do to have a successful vet appointment despite a nervous pet.
Choose the Right Vet
The right vet will be able to help calm your dog's anxieties and make your appointment a success. Ask your vet, or any vet you are considering using, what experience they have of working with nervous dogs and whether they or their staff go through specific training about working with anxious, frightened dogs. A good vet will also let you visit the office with your dog and meet some of the staff so that your dog starts to associate the building with a good experience, rather than unpleasant appointments. Finally, they will be able to give you advice about what you can do before an appointment to reduce anxiety, such as tiring your dog out or buying a weighted anti-anxiety shirt for your pet.
Examine Your Pet at Home
Examining your pet at home, as you are not a vet, may seem a little strange, but it will get your pet used to having their teeth, ears, or paws examined in a safe, familiar environment. This will make the actual inspections less anxiety-inducing when they happen, and you may notice health problems in your dog earlier with regular checks. The Healthy Pet Club explains some simple checks you can do at home, such as inspecting their teeth and gums for redness and decay, checking their skin for fleas, ticks, or soreness, and keeping their nails short and clean.
The American Kennel Club describes research that has been done on emotions in dogs, explaining that they can recognise basic human emotions such as fear and sadness. Anecdotally, most dog owners can recognise that their dog does pick up on their emotions, including anxiety. Therefore, if you are able to stay calm at the vet, your dog will feel less anxious. It's natural to be worried about taking a nervous dog to the vet, but try your best not to convey this to your dog—speak in a positive, cheerful tone, and if your anxiety levels are high, try some breathing exercises or ask a calmer friend to accompany you.
By choosing a vet who has experience in working with nervous pets, keeping your own anxiety to a minimum and practising checks with your dog at home, you can ensure that your dog's anxiety is reduced and your appointment goes smoothly. If you need more help and ideas, you can ask your vet for advice.