Many of us fear the unknown, especially if it’s our first time to witness or experience it. The same is true with our dogs and their first trip to the veterinarian’s clinic. This new event in their lives would render some pets fearful and highly agitated to a point when their next visits would be equally troublesome.
As early as puppy age, dogs should be sent to the vet for regular checkups. One of the first activities done in vet clinics is vaccination, which could be disconcerting and even traumatic to your pet if you don’t prepare him for the activity.
Like human beings, dogs also portray anxiety and fear through a number of visible physical signs, some of which are as follows:
- Excessive drooling and licking of lips
- Abnormally frequent yawning
- Uncommon panting
- Frequent sniffing (probably to have a sense of what’s to come)
- Fits of trembling and fidgeting
- Sinking of tail between the legs
- Head looking away or looking down
- Shedding of fur
Even if you think that the first vet trip is going to be stressful, catastrophic, and horrifying for your dog, you need to prepare your pet for the doctor’s consultation. Remember that the visit to the vet is one of the most important events in a dog’s life that he should not miss. Your dog might be predisposed to a particular set of critical health conditions based on his breed, making it all the more essential to schedule a vet consult. It is very important to prepare your dog – and even yourself – ahead of time before the actual day of the trip to the animal clinic.
If it’s the first time that your dog is going to the vet, here are seven tips to make sure that this milestone event becomes stress-free and memorable for all the right reasons:
1. Set an appointment during lean days and times
Some pets may become agitated and irritated when a lot of animals are around. If your dog behaves like this, try to schedule an appointment in a day when there are fewer clients. You may ask the clinic staff or the veterinarian about the clinic’s lean days and hours. As much as possible, avoid weekends and holidays because you would expect a rush of people during these days.
Dogs can easily pick up fear and anxiety from other animals. If they’re in the company of a lot of fellow patients, there’s a big chance that the level of anxiety in the room is very intense.
2. Check if you’re anxious
Remember that your pet can also sense your fear and anxiety. Don’t feed your own anxious feelings to your dog, because the trip to the clinic is really going to be stressful for your pet.
It’s normal for any dog owner to feel excited or anxious about the first vet visit, but try to keep a happy disposition about it. Wear a smile and make sure that you feed happiness and calmness to your dog before and during the vet visit.
3. Avoid surprising your dog with totally new things
You might feel too excited for the first vet consultation to a point when you buy things that you think your dog needs for the trip. These new items may surprise your pet or make them alienated, leading them to fear the trip to the doctor.
The solution? If you bought a new item (such as a new carrier), let your dog become familiar with the object weeks before the scheduled veterinarian visit. In addition, if it’s the first time that your dog will ride your car in preparation for going to the vet, let your pet ride multiple times in your vehicle way before the clinic visit.
4. Ready your pet’s favorites
Make your dog feel special and pleased with the trip to the vet by offering his favorite treats and toys. You can even choose to delay his regular feeding schedule so that the lure of his favorite food treats will translate to a more pleasant visit to the doctor.
5. Visit the clinic a few times before the actual consultation
When dogs become more exposed and familiar to places, they experience less anxiety. Why not do this with the vet’s clinic? Bring your dog to the clinic days prior to the scheduled vet appointment, and let him become attuned with the scents and sights of the place. When the actual day of the vet consultation comes, your dog should already be more relaxed in the clinic.
6. Play veterinarian at home
It may seem silly at first glance, but mimicking the vet’s possible actions may somehow train your dog to become aware of this kind of scenario. Try to act out some common actions that doctors do on patients, such as inspecting your dog’s eyes and ears, holding their paws up, or opening your dog’s mouth gently.
It would be best to do this kind of exercise on your pet at a very early age. This way, your pet will think that these gestures are normal and part of a regular routine. As a result, your dog will feel less threatened when the vet props his mouth open for inspection.
7. Use things to calm your dog
Some products are designed to calm pets without making them sleep. Some of these items are familiar to many veterinarians, and so it might be best to ask them about these things. Examples of these calm-inducing products include lavender scents, calming hormone sprays, and pressure shirts.
The best tip in calming your dog is to assure him of your presence throughout the entire process. As the owner of the pet, you should be present and visible to your dog at all times. This includes being there inside the clinic while the vet is checking your pet. Your mere presence will already bring heaps of comfort and calmness to your dog.
The experience of your pet on the first visit to the veterinarian will dictate his behavior in succeeding visits. Make sure that your dog’s first vet trip is a pleasant and satisfying experience that will make him eager for the next visit.