Making Vet Visits Less Scary

Let’s be honest, vet visits aren’t always fun for pets. They can be stressful and scary, both for the pet and the human! However, they are necessary for our pets’ health. If you can work with your dog and your veterinary team to provide a better experience, you can ease the stress and turn vet visits into a positive scenario.

Utilize No Poke Visits

  • Visit the veterinary hospital without any vaccines or blood draws
  • Spend time in the lobby, on the scale, or briefly in an exam room (if able) and provide treats that your pup loves
  • You may also practice basic cues (see below)

Make the Most of Distractions

  • Toys, filled Kongs, frozen treats, lick-able mats – all of these options can help distract your pet and aid in their comfort while at the vet
  • The trick is to find something your pup is excited about and doesn’t find boring

Practice Basic Cues

  • Asking for cues your dog understands well and rewarding these at the veterinary hospital can help them become more comfortable
  • These cues may offer your dog a way to communicate with you and also give them a task to focus on instead of all of the smells, noises, or other parts of the visit

Know Your Pet

  • Learn to read your pup’s body language so you can see whether they are comfortable or stressed
  • If you know what parts of a vet visit your dog likes the least, you can practice making them more comfortable at home, for example:
    • If your pet has a tough time with blood draws, you can practice picking up your pet’s foot and gently holding it
    • If your dog has a hard time with dental exams, you can practice lifting their lip, touching their gums, and holding this position for a brief time
    • Pair both exercises with treats to build a positive association with this type of handling

If your dog has serious stress or anxiety at the vet, talk to your veterinarian and the hospital staff about other ways you could lessen the stress at your visits. You could also seek out the help of a professional trainer that can help you address your dog’s fear in a safe and humane manner.