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Is your dog nervous at the vet?

Is your dog nervous at the vet?

We all know that most cats aren’t the biggest fans of visiting the vet, but seeing us can be a pretty scary prospect for some dogs as well. Dogs can sometimes mask signs of anxiety or stress, or can be showing us behaviours that are easy to misinterpret as being happy or excited.

Some common signs of a dog being worried or scared are:

  • Excessive licking of the lips

  • Yawning when not tired

  • Panting when not hot

  • Pacing around the room

  • Avoiding touch/hiding behind objects

  • Drooling

  • Visible whites of the eyes (“whale eyes”)

  • Shaking or quivering

  • Lifting of the lip and snapping

  • Barking/vocalising


If your dog does any of these at the vet, it’s a sign your pet doesn’t much appreciate the annual checkup. This is very common and understandable – after all, a healthy pet should only need to see us once a year, and we do some very strange things when they come to visit us (think how rude a simple temperature check would seem!). But vet visits don’t have to be stressful for you or your pet.

Here are a few tips for making your next vet visit a bit easier for your dog.

Come and visit us! Popping in to the clinic on a walk just to say hello, check your dog’s weight on the scales, and maybe grab a treat on the way out is a great way to desensitise your pooch. If your dog only comes in for the annual vaccination, it’s understandable that they’d get scared when they walk in. But coming in for a nice treat and a pat from the front desk staff can teach your pet it’s not always scary to visit us.

Go on car rides. Sometimes it’s not the vet but the car trip that scares our dogs. Cars are noisy and fast and some dogs even get motion sickness that can make a quick trip a nightmare. Start with small trips in the car around the block if your dog is scared of the car, then gradually increase the distance.  Let us know if your dog gets motion sickness – there are medications that can help with this.

Let us know! Some dogs don’t appreciate other dogs in their space, so sitting in the reception area can be a touch ask. If your dog gets worried about others, let the reception team know. It might work better if you can hang out in the car with your pooch or take a bit of a walk around outside the clinic until the vet calls you in, sometimes we can put you straight in to a consult room so your dog doesn’t have to interact with others. Some dogs will still hate the vet despite all the best care and all the treats in the world. Even a nail trim can feel like the end of the world for some dogs, so the annual checkup and injections are even worse! We have a range of medications and strategies to help the most worried of dogs – anti-anxiety medications, pheromone collars to make your dog feel more secure, and sedatives to make that pesky nail trim more relaxed. If you think your pet needs a little help to cope with their next visit, please let us know.


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