Keeper walks into the veterinary clinic willingly, but as soon as the vet places him on an exam table, he turns into a brown-and-white twister, trying every move possible to escape. He was found as a stray and brought to a shelter, so his owners don’t know his background, but they do know that he had to be treated for heartworms and that the intramuscular injections were painful. That may be the reason that Keeper fights with all he’s got to stay off that exam table.
He’s not alone. Many pets have had frightening or painful procedures at the veterinary clinic. Although we now have better ways to reduce pain, we can’t always prevent it, but we can take steps to prevent or reduce the fear factor.
Keeping pets calm during vet visits helps to ensure that they are easier to handle during exams or other procedures. When stress doesn’t mask or change vital signs such as temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure, a more accurate diagnosis is possible. Blood work is more accurate, too, and it’s easier to identify signs of sensitivity, pain, or illness.
Reducing a pet’s fear, anxiety, or stress is better for everyone involved. Dogs are less likely to panic and become aggressive, and that makes the dogs, veterinarians, technicians, and owners safer as well. Discuss the following ideas with your veterinarian to help create better visits for your pet. If you’re seeking a veterinarian, look for one who is Fear Free certified. Your pet will love you for it.
Prepare Your Pup for Veterinary Handling
â€¢ Perform mock veterinary exams at home, running your hands over your dog’s entire body, including sensitive areas, such as paws or the groin area, as well as the following exercises:
â€¢ Practice giving him a restraining hugâ€”without getting in his face.
â€¢ Get him used to being held in your arms. It can help to give rewards and add a verbal cue, such as â€œStill.â€
â€¢ Play â€œpass the puppyâ€ at training class to help him become accustomed to being held and handled by many different people. Reward him with treats and praise when he remains calm while being handled.
â€¢ Ask if your veterinarian offers a class that provides puppies with a positive play and training experience at the clinic, as well as experience with the environment, such as standing on the scale or associating the smell of alcohol with training and play.
These techniques are appropriate for dogs who are not fearful or aggressive. Consult a board-certified veterinary behaviorist for help if you are dealing with a dog who is aggressive.