Dog Scared Of Vet? Here’s How To Help…
July 11, 2022 | 3 min read
Updated October 19, 2023
By Sarah Milton
Summary: “My dog hates the vet!” Fear not, pet parent! In this blog, learn why some dogs can be scared of the vet, how often you should take a dog to the vet and how to help foster a stress-free vet visit with your pooch…
Why Are Dogs Scared Of The Vet?
Does your dog pant excessively, shake, whine, try to hide, or pull away on their leash when you approach the vets with them? Some doggies can experience fear anxiety of the vets - the same way some humans do of dentists or hospitals!
This is usually due to a negative association they’ve made with the vets… This may be a pain they experienced when there, feeling unwell when there, the car journey there, or perhaps just meeting lots of scary strangers.
However, regardless of why your dog decided they are scared of the veterinarian’s office, they must continue to visit the vet for their routine check-ups and essential vaccinations. So, how can we help them feel a bit more at ease on attending their health appointments…?
Dog Scared Of The Vet? Here’s How To Help…
Get Them Used To Being Touched
From an early age, try to get them used to movements a vet would make - like lifting their tail, feeling their paws and around their nails, placing two hands around their belly, etc. If your pup can be familiar with these movements from you, the likelihood is they won’t react adversely when a vet does the same.
Stay Calm Yourself
If you’re anxious about your dog’s vet visit, a dog can pick up on your tension and respond in accordance with it. If you’re calm and positive and keep to their routine as much as possible on the day of the appointment, this will help your dog stay soothed.
Resist Petting Them
Affection via petting is perceived as a reward by a dog, so if you attempt to soothe their nerves with petting, they’ll learn that this behavior gives them a positive outcome so may adapt it to ensure that it happens! Save rewarding them with fuss, attention, and treats until after their appointment!
Take Them For A Test Visit
Take your dog to the vet’s office the day before their appointment and simply let them have a sniff and meet the reception staff. Perhaps they could be weighed by the staff, and offered lots of treats so your dog learns the veterinary clinic is a positive place to go! This might help them relax on your follow-up visit when their actual appointment takes place. The same goes for traveling there - if your dog doesn’t often go in the car, get them used to going a bit more before their appointment. Remember to secure your dog in the car in a safe way before embarking on any journey.
Be Organized And Efficient
Keep the appointment as concise as possible. In advance of the appointment, make sure you’ve made a list of symptoms, concerns, and questions you want to ask your vet so you can make your pet’s experience as thorough as it needs to be in a concise, efficient way. Try not to be shy yourself at the vet’s - ask questions and ask for demonstrations of care and medicine administration. Your vet wants to help you and reduce your need to return too!
Pack your pet’s favorite toy in the car with them for their journey to the vet. You can also use known calming, dog-friendly scents on a towel or pillow to place in the car with your pet too like lavender, geranium, or chamomile. These can help both you and your pet feel calmer.
Doggy Calming Aids
You can ask your vet about ingested calming aids for dogs that may help your pup feel a bit more zen before attending their scheduled visit. There are many on the market that won’t alter a pet’s personality or make them “dopey”, so it may be worth an inquiry.
How Often Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?
If you have any health concerns regarding your dog, they should be seen by a vet. The same goes for any injury they may sustain.
When it comes to routine care, a dog should be seen, on average, yearly for a routine check-up, to make sure they’re up to date on their vaccinations and their dental health is being maintained.
Some vet offices also offer grooming services like having their nails clipped, which is essential to stay on top of when it comes to their joint health. A visit like this will depend on how fast your dog’s nails grow - you can ask your vet how often your particular dog needs to attend the vet’s for nail clipping. However, a dog groomer can usually offer this service too.
As dogs get older, you will find they may need to attend the veterinary clinic more often. The same goes for puppies - particularly when they’re receiving their first vaccinations.
If you’re worried about the cost of veterinarian care and don’t have pet health insurance (which is highly recommended), check out local veterinarian schools who may be able to assist. Many run low-cost clinics for limited-income clients. There are also charities out there that can offer financial help or care.
“8 Secrets To Stress-Free Vet Visits” Cesar’s Way, Jun 18. 2015 https://www.cesarsway.com/8-secrets-to-stress-free-vet-visits/
“How To Prepare Your Dog For The Vet’s?” Best Behaviour Dog Training, Mar 10. 2022 https://www.bestbehaviourdogtraining.co.uk/blog-post/how-to-prepare-your-dog-for-the-vets/
“How Often Does My Dog Need To Visit The Vet” RSPCA Pet Insurance https://www.rspcapetinsurance.org.au/pet-care/dog-care/how-often-does-my-dog-need-to-visit-the-vet
Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!