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7 Ways to Make Vet Visits Enjoyable and Safe for Your Dog

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One thing that I think many people overlook is how difficult vet visits are for many many dogs. I have thoughtfully compiled a list of things to keep in mind when you visit the vet to help keep your dog, other people, and other dogs safe at the vet’s office. 

1. Muzzle train your dog.

Even if you are 99.99999% sure that your dog will not bite someone it is important that you teach your dog how to happily wear and accept a muzzle. Many dogs will bite or growl when they are in pain, or scared. Safety is always the number one priority, and to keep vet staff safe many vets put muzzles on dogs while they are doing procedures. Teaching your dog to wear a muzzle ahead of time will make procedures easier on your dog. It’s not very difficult to train, and if you take your time and make it fun, most dogs will happily wear a muzzle. It’s a good life skill, think of it like crate training! To learn how to muzzle train your dog click here.

2. Waiting Area

When you are in the waiting area keep your dog in his or her own space. Do not let your dog interact with any other dogs, for any reason. Even if your dog is friendly, or loves other dogs, a vet’s waiting area is not an appropriate space for interacting. Many dogs at the vet are sick (you don’t want your dog getting sick), and many dogs at the vet are incredibly stressed (you don’t want your dog getting bitten). There is not enough space, and there is always too much going on in a waiting area for dog to dog interactions to be safe. If your dog is struggling to sit quietly as you wait (whether it be because they want to say hi to everyone, or are struggling to maintain their composure), ask the receptionist if it is possible to wait for the vet in an exam room or a more private space. 

3. Other People

Next, let’s talk about people during a vet visit. In a visit to the vet, your dog will see many many people. They will see a receptionist, people in the waiting area, vet techs, the vet, and others. Be considerate of others while you are at the vet. Don’t try to say hi to other dogs while you are at the vet with your dog. 

4. Vet staff interactions.

If someone who works at the vet office would like to say hi to your dog let your dog initiate the interaction. If people say something like “hi, can I say hi to your dog?” give your dog a choice “Fluffy, would you like to go say hi?” If your dog stays still or moves away the answer is no. If he actively moves towards the person they can say hi briefly, 3-5 seconds max at a time. Be your dog’s advocate. “I’m sorry, I don’t think Fluffy wants to say hi right now.” It is perfectly appropriate. It is absolutely ok for your dog to not say hi! It’s not rude, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

5. Hellos

If you have a dog who does not like people in other situations they will not magically like people just because you are at the vet’s office. Even if they appear to be tolerating the greeting. Say no to hellos. Be your dog’s advocate.


6. Frequent Visits

If you are lucky enough to live close to your vet, bring your dog in to say hi on a regular basis. Drop by, grab a treat and do this often. It will make vet visits easier if your dog has a history of good things happening at the vet. 

7. Make it a good experience

If medically possible, bring your dog’s most favorite all-time treats (steak, chicken, liverwurst, cheese, all the big guns) to the vet, and feed the entire time you are there. There is no such things as too many treats at the vet. Feed in the waiting area, feed in the exam room, feed during the exam, feed after the exam, feed as you are checking out. Feed, feed, feed. – Disclaimer, if your dog is fasting for a procedure or something similar, obviously don’t give them treats.

Hopefully, your dog does not end up needing to visit the vet on Halloween, but it is likely that your dog will need to visit the vet sometime this year anyway. One thing that I think many people overlook is how difficult vet visits are for many many dogs. I have thoughtfully compiled a list of things to keep in mind when you visit the vet to help keep your dog, other people, and other dog’s safe at the vet’s. 

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