How to Reduce My Dog’s Fear of the Vet

Nobody looks forward to going to the doctor’s office. Dogs are no exception. The trip to your vet can be stressful for you and your furry friend. Unfortunately, anxiety and stress in dogs can mask signs of sensitivity or pain and cause severe health problems. It can also skew diagnostic tests, cause diarrhea, and weaken the immune system.



Why Many Dogs Fear the Vet



One of the reasons dogs do not like the vet’s office is because it often feels traumatic to them. Loud sounds and smells bombard their senses as they walk through the door. They also encounter other animals, which can raise their anxiety levels.


The physical examination can also be stressful for dogs. A veterinary technician will restrain your dog while the vet prods and pokes, possibly drawing blood and giving vaccinations. Such unfamiliar handling by strangers can cause your furry friend to feel afraid and confused. It is even worse if your dog is already injured or sick.



Common Phobias Seen in Veterinary Offices



Fear is a defense mechanism, so you cannot eliminate it. Animals rely on fear to keep them alive. However, you have to intervene when fearful behavior poses a danger to your dog or family members.


Your dog may express fear in several ways. Dogs may cower, bark, whine, hide, pace, or shake. When anxiety goes beyond a rational response, it becomes a phobia. For dogs, it can take just one experience to solidify fear into a phobia, which can take on a lie of its own. Some of the common categories of fears and phobias seen in veterinary offices include:


  • Sound phobia.
  • Blood injection phobias.
  • Fear of strangers.
  • Situational phobias like separation anxiety.



How to Reduce the Fear



Your dog’s fear of the vet is easy to conquer or prevent. However, it would help if you put in the necessary effort and time. Even if completely eradicating the fear is impossible, you can still ease most of your dog’s anxiety. Some of the steps to take include:



Practice Examinations at Home



Spend time every day checking your dog’s ears, teeth, and paws. Restrain your pup and be as gentle as possible. Give your dog lots of treats and praises during these practice exams. This will help make visits to your vet less scary for your dog.



Visit Your Veterinarian’s Office Socially



Most dogs only see the veterinarian when it is time for their shots or when they are injured or sick. To reduce your dog’s fear of the vet, make arrangements with your veterinarian to stop by a few times for a social call. Have your vet give your pup some friendly petting and a few treats. Soon, your canine friend may look forward to seeing the vet.


Other ways to reduce your dog’s fear of the vet include:


  • Medicate for anxiety.
  • Get your dog used to wearing a muzzle.
  • Find a veterinarian who is open to making house calls.


Does your canine companion fear the veterinarian? If so, you do not need to worry too much. It is a common issue in many dogs. Even the happiest pooches may tuck their tail and cower as their owners try to coax them through the veterinary clinic’s door. Your dog might never learn to enjoy a trip to the vet. Fortunately, the tips outlined above can help make the visits less stressful.


For more on pet care, visit Brekke Veterinary at our office in Castle Pines or Castle Rock, Colorado. Call 303-474-4260 or 720-464-3525 to schedule an appointment today.

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