How can North End Animal Hospital Make Your Dog’s Vet Experience Less Stressful
Does your dog experience anxiety or stress every time you enter the veterinary hospital? This can make simple procedures such as physical exams, vaccinations or nail trims very difficult to complete and often the dog will associate the clinic with their stressful experience. At the North End Animal Hospital we have made many accommodations to help with this. We have a separate side entrance that can be used to avoid seeing other animals, separate dog and cat waiting areas, a separate, quiet dog ward in case your dog has to stay and many other changes to ease their stress.
Here are some simple tips that you can try to make your dog’s next vet appointment less stressful for both of you!
Plan Regular Social Vet Visits
Don’t wait until your pet is sick or due for their annual to visit us! Making it a habit to visit your veterinary clinic with your pet outside of his/her annual or vaccinations can help condition them to the environment, i.e. reducing their anxiety in the situation and having them associate the vet clinic with a positive experience (with the help of lots of praise and treats!)
It can also help with socialization (especially during the pandemic), not to mention we always love saying hi to our patients!
This could be as simple as adjusting your walking route so that you and your pet can pop in for a treat and a weight check weekly. Some dogs have or can develop a fear of the scale and getting their weight can be a difficult task, so introducing them to this frequently and at an early age is a great idea to reduce stress and anxiety at the vet.
Handle Your Dog Often
You can help condition your dog to certain feelings that may be uncomfortable to them, such as having his/her paws, ears, and mouth touched by people. Having a patient who is used to and comfortable with being touched and handled makes our jobs as a veterinary team a lot simpler (and safer) when doing common procedures at the clinic such as physical exams, nail trims, inserting a catheter, etc.
If your dog does well when you practice this, reward him/her with a treat. This is a great, simple way to bond with your pet while giving him/her lots of pets and love! It is also a good habit for pet owners as they are more likely to notice any new bumps or lumps sooner if they are frequently handling their dog.
This approach can also be used for teeth cleaning; it is recommended to start introducing your dog or puppy to teeth brushing as early as possible for this same purpose, plus it can help reduce their accumulation of tartar over time if you stay consistent!
Regular Car Rides
If your dog is used to going in the car strictly to travel to vet appointments, they may start to associate the car with the vet and car rides may no longer be enjoyable. Anxiety or car sickness can occur in instances like this.
Bringing your dog along for short car rides, quick errands, or driving to a walking trail can help condition them to the car environment and form positive associations with car rides. Make sure to reward good behaviour with treats and praise!
If your dog tends to be more anxious at the vet, take him/her for a long walk before your appointment to burn any nervous energy. You can also do this by playing or giving him/her some mental stimulation with toys or by practicing training beforehand.
If you have a small dog that travels in a carrier, it is a great idea to introduce your dog to the carrier as early as possible and allow them to sniff and investigate it well before his/her first vet visit, allowing them to enter it on their own (and reward with treats!). Placing a special blanket or toy of your pet’s in the carrier can also make them feel more comfortable.