You need to go to the vet, either for your dog’s annual vaccination visit or because he is sick.
You begin to feel slightly anxious at the thought of having to take the car, wait in the waiting room and then attend the consultation.
So little by little you feel a whiff of anxiety rising within you, Imagine how stressed your dog is too. ! Rest assured, there are a number of ways to reduce this level of stress before, during and after your vet visit.
If you take this into account, you will see that it will benefit your pet as much as it will benefit you.
Before you go to the clinic
The first thing to do is to make an appointment with your veterinarian. This is essential, even if it may not seem obvious at first glance. Most clinics have a lot of work for veterinarians, so if you arrive without an appointment to see your veterinarian, you may have to wait a long time, which can be stressful enough for both you and your already nervous enough companion.
When you call to make an appointment, clearly explain why you’re coming, whether it’s for a routine check-up to re-vaccinate your pet or for a specific health problem (describe your pet’s symptoms roughly in this case).
Also ask the veterinary health auxiliary (ASV) who makes the appointment if you need to follow certain instructions before coming for a consultation, such as taking a stool sample for your veterinarian to examine under a microscope or leaving the animal sober for 8 hours to perform certain tests. In any case, it’s not necessarily a good idea to feed your pet before a car trip.
Now that you’ve made your appointment, it’s important that you know what type of consultation you’ll have depending on the reason for your visit. You can go for a consultation for different reasons:
- Vaccination. The primary vaccination (first vaccination often requiring several injections one month apart) is carried out during your first visit to the veterinarian, or when you adopt your pet. Afterwards, booster vaccinations are regularly scheduled (every 1 to 3 years) according to the vaccines specifically required for your dog, his lifestyle, where he lives, etc…
- The annual medical examination. This important visit includes a general health examination, the administration of the necessary vaccine booster shots and checking that your companion is well protected against external parasites (fleas and ticks) and internal parasites (intestinal parasites, possibly cardiac dirofilariasis or lung parasites).
- The general health check. It is carried out in particular in the senior dog and allows a meticulous evaluation of his state of health in order to prevent the development of diseases appearing from a certain age, to take stock of his diet, to check the state of his teeth, eyes, skin…
- A medical problem/treatment. This consultation takes place when you are concerned about your dog’s condition and would like your veterinarian to examine your dog to determine what’s going on and offer treatment if necessary.
- The follow-up medical visit. These visits are especially important when your dog is being cared for for a chronic illness or persistent health problem. This may include certain skin diseases (allergic skin diseases) or chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
You will have at heart to prepare your companion for these different visits. To do this, what you must do above all is to keep calm and remain zen. Your dog senses when you are nervous or stressed and will respond accordingly.
One way to prepare your dog is to do a “rehearsal” of the clinical examination. that it will undergo to get it used to being handled, especially its face (ears, eyelids, lips, teeth), legs (including toes and pads) and tail. If you have a small dog and plan to put it in a carrier, take it out several days beforehand so that your dog can get used to it.
Place some toys, treats or her favourite blanket. If your dog enters the basket on his own, praise him warmly. Don’t hesitate to use the carrier for other, more pleasant occasions than the vet, for example when going to a remote walk or on holiday, so that your dog doesn’t always associate the carrier with the vet.
Similarly, if your only car ride with your dog is the one that takes him to the veterinary clinic, your companion will inevitably make the association between the two (and you’ll have a hard time getting him in the car!).
So use the car to make the most enjoyable journeys. so that your dog associates this mode of transport with something positive. Finally, if you go to the veterinary clinic for simple purchases of pest control treatments or food, don’t hesitate to go with your dog, so he won’t necessarily associate this trip with an unpleasant consultation.
If your dog is not ill and you have made an appointment for a simple vaccination consultation, you can take him for a long walk before bringing him to the clinic; this way he will be calmer and more relaxed and will better endure his vaccination consultation.
Once at the veterinary clinic
Even if you have several pets in the house, your dog may not be comfortable seeing other pets in the waiting room, especially since they’re usually anxious.
Do not hesitate to leave it in its transport basket. or keep him on a leash while you wait. If your dog gets anxious easily, tell your veterinarian and ask if you can’t wait in a consulting room.
You can also ask the ASV to warn you when your turn comes while you are waiting in the car park or walking around the courtyard in front of the clinic. If you don’t live too far from the clinic, don’t hesitate to pass by the front from time to time with your dog and reward him if he behaves well and doesn’t show signs of anxiety.
You have now entered the consultation room with your veterinarian. Ideally, you should give your dog a few minutes to get used to this new environment. Don’t forget to reassure your dog while the vet examines him or the VSA maintains him. Remain attentive throughout the consultation. and don’t hesitate to help your veterinarian when asked.
However, be careful if your dog shows signs of aggression during the consultation. The best thing to do in this case is to step aside and let the nursing team do its work without stroking your dog so as not to reinforce this behaviour.
You can also bring some treats that your dog enjoys and give them to him (if your vet agrees) after the consultation as a reward or to distract him.
If you remain calm throughout the consultation, you will immediately see the benefits of the consultation and the consultation will most certainly go off without a hitch.
What you do when you get home depends on your dog’s health.
If you had come for a simple vaccination consultation, why not take your pet for a “reward” walk; this way he will associate this visit positively with two pleasant appointments, a long “pre-visit” walk and a “post-visit” walk, which will reduce his stress the next time.
However, if your dog has a condition that requires close monitoring or medical treatment, your veterinarian may ask you to watch for other signs or changes and prevent them if they occur. You’ll likely have discussed with your veterinarian what treatments are prescribed, including how they should be administered, what potential side effects to watch for, and when you’d like to make a follow-up visit.
If something is bothering you once you get home, don’t hesitate to call the veterinary clinic again and they will certainly answer all your questions. It’s best to call as soon as possible instead of “waiting to see” and ask any questions during the clinic’s opening hours (not to the veterinarian on call).
Finally, give time and space to your companion. so that he can reacquaint himself with his familiar surroundings. Don’t rush him out of his transport basket, but let him go out on his own at his own pace. Don’t forget to reward him and give him a good dose of petting so that he understands that he behaved well at the vet’s office. That way you’ll “de-dramatize” the appointment and both of you will feel much better.