Being a dog parent is all fun and games until you have to take your furry friend to the vet. Even though you might think you only have to go if they’re sick, dogs require regular checkups to ensure they’re in the best health possible. That said, vet visits are an integral part of every dog’s life, and it’s your responsibility as their owner to take them. Although they might have anxiety or be uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations, they still have to go—follow along to learn how to make vet visits less stressful for your dog.
Keep Your Own Anxiety in Check
If this is your first vet visit with your pup, you might be slightly anxious about how they’ll react. As a result, your anxiety may be more apparent than you think it is. Dogs and other animals are extremely intuitive, meaning they can pick up on subtle emotions much better than humans. If your dog senses your anxiety, they might interpret the situation negatively.
When they sense their owner has negative feelings, they also believe they should feel that way. Therefore, keeping your anxiety in check is an excellent way to ensure your pup stays calm during the visit.
Touch Your Dog Everywhere
This one might seem strange, but the fear of getting touched is one of the most common reasons dogs freak out at the vet. To care for your doggo, the vet will most likely have to feel them in unfamiliar areas, like their mouth, ears, feet, and genitals. With that said, you should make an effort to touch your dog everywhere daily to make them more familiar with getting felt in those areas.
If they don’t mind having their ears cleaned, teeth brushed, or nails trimmed, they’ll most likely do okay during their vet visit. On the other hand, if they’re reluctant to let you touch them, they’ll be much less receptive to a stranger.
Take Car Rides Beforehand
The car ride is one of the hardest parts of going to the vet. However, you can make it much easier on your dog and yourself by taking car rides together beforehand. Unfortunately, when your dog only rides in the car when they’re going to the vet, they’re more likely to be resistant about getting in the vehicle or experiencing car sickness or anxiety. Therefore, you should consider taking them on various trips in the car and ending with a fun activity, like going to the dog park, visiting friends, or picking out a new toy at the pet store.
Once your dog gets used to riding in the car, they won’t think twice about getting in the car for the vet. While short trips aren’t usually too difficult, you can make them more comfortable by getting all the right travel accessories for dogs.
Bring Treats for the Trip
If your dog gets motivated by food, treats are one of the best ways to convince them to behave or cooperate during their vet visit. If they are behaving, reward them with a good treat. If you really want to be friendly, consider bringing a special treat they don’t usually get for this visit. You can also tell the vet techs to give them treats for good behavior.
Book an Early Appointment
If you’re concerned about your dog’s anxiety when it comes to vet visits, be sure to book an early appointment. When you take them early in the morning, they’re less likely to have multiple people and pets in the waiting room. Therefore, your pup will be less likely to act out or get overly excited about the other animals.
Use Calming Scents
Calming scents are yet another way to soothe an already anxious dog. For instance, your pup might not like riding in the car, but applying a dog-safe lavender spray on their towel or blanket can help calm their mind and body. When you get to the vet’s office, having the scent on your hands and arms is another effective way to relax them amid potential chaos.
Visit the Vet Just for Fun
Going to the vet is nerve-wracking for many dogs because it’s an unfamiliar place with people they don’t know. However, you can fix this problem easily. Consider taking your pup to the vet’s office just for fun. When you’re out and about with them, stop in to say hi to the employees, weigh them, and get a treat. This way, they’ll create a positive association with visiting your vet’s office—when they come in for their checkups, they’ll be more comfortable with the location and the surrounding people.
Employ Basic Training in Advance
Basic training comes in handy when taking your pup to the vet. Because the doctor will need to get them into specific positions for different things, teaching them to sit, stand, and turn around can be extremely helpful. Additionally, getting them used to being around other dogs can help them maintain calmness when entering the office.
Get Them Used to Their Leash
Getting your dog used to walking on their leash is crucial for a successful vet visit. Even if your pup doesn’t walk on a leash regularly, leash training is essential—many places require your dog to be on a leash, so it’s well worth your time and effort. If they’re familiar with walking on their leash, they’ll be less likely to pull and be disobedient when you enter the vet’s office.
Many dogs want to go crazy and play with other dogs as soon as they see them, which can be problematic if other pups are sick or non-tolerant. However, being on a leash is the most effective way to contain them during their visit.
Now that you know how to make vet visits less stressful for your dog, you can ensure they behave throughout the process. Visiting the vet is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience for you and your pup.