Preparing your dog for a vet visit

anxious dog

Bringing your dog to the vet can be stressful for both you and your companion however, there are things we can both do to help your pooch feel more at ease when visiting our clinic.

How can you help?

Going for a walk:

Reducing energy levels and allowing a bathroom break will make your dog more comfortable. Unless you have been advised otherwise (e.g., your dog is recovering or on a sedation protocol) you should allow time to take your dog out in a familiar place before heading off for your appointment.

Positive reinforcement:

It is best not to give your dog a meal before coming into the clinic (unless advised otherwise e.g. giving its medication with food). This can prevent travel sickness and will make the treats more appealing when they are in the clinic. Dogs experiencing stress or anxiety will often avoid eating the yummy treats we offer so if you have a treat which is of high value to your dog bring some into your appointment. When in the clinic use treats to reward desired behaviours (such as waiting, interacting with people/animals, sitting, and allowing examination) as this will make your dog more likely to repeat these behaviours.

small dog in carrier cage

Bring a scented item from home:

Bring along a blanket or favourite toy from home to provide your dog with familiarity and extra comfort.

Provide security:  

Ensure your dog is on a lead with a secure collar, you can place small breed dogs in a carry cage if you wish. Ensuring your pet is on lead not only helps them feel secure but allows you to easily move them throughout the clinic and avoids stressful events such as escaping from the clinic or approaching another patient who may not interact positively with your dog. In some instances, you may be required to muzzle your dog before we are able to examine it, this is to protect the wellbeing of your dog and the safety of our staff. In these situations, it is helpful for you to expose your dog to the muzzle outside of the clinic environment, so they become comfortable having one put on them.

Understand your dog’s behaviour:  

It is important that you understand how to read your dog’s body language and what events trigger stress and anxiety so that you can act appropriately. Look out for signs such as ears tucked backwards, tail down, furrowed brown, fidgeting, lip licking, panting. Recognising these signs early on is important as you can de-escalate the situation before their stress increases.

Natural support of pheromones: 

We stock a range of products that provide natural ways to reduce stress – such as Adaptil and Calmex. Pheromone sprays such as Adaptil use a synthetic copy of the appeasing pheromone mothers release to their puppies. This scent reassures dogs and helps them feel relaxed.  You can spray a bandana with Adaptil 10-15 minutes before you leave for your appointment.

Waiting at the clinic:

If your dog is becoming fidgety while waiting encourage distractions such as treats, toys or affection. You can also speak to reception and take your dog for a walk in the car park while you wait. 

Keep calm:

We understand seeing your furry family member stressed is upsetting, however, animals can sense if you are rushed and stressed verse happy and calm. It is important to provide them with reassurance through how we interact with them. 

Desensitisation visits:

Desensitisation is exposing your dog to a stimulus that would normally cause fear or anxiety at a low level so that there is minimal response. You can visit our clinic even when you don’t have an appointment to expose your dog to low-level experiences such as being in the waiting room, being weighed on the scales, and taking treats. Paired with positive reinforcement these visits will help reinforce their good behaviour and reduce their anxiety when an appointment is required. You can also practice common handling techniques at home such as touching their ears and paws, lifting their lips, and gently running your hands over their body.

How can we help?

The ‘Chill Protocol’ is used industry-wide to reduce fear, anxiety and aggressive behaviour in animals when coming into the clinic.  It involves giving the animal prescribed medications to mildly sedate them prior to the visit.

There are two different protocols that we have in place for dogs, your vet will select the best one for your animal. Both protocols include medication which is required to be given at certain times leading up to the appointment. If you feel this would be beneficial for your dog, please call the clinic days prior to your appointment to discuss it.

Reducing the stress and anxiety of our patients is extremely important to us, not only for the well-being of your pet, but also for the safety of our team. In some instances, we may require your dog to have the Chill Protocol and/or wear a muzzle before visiting our clinic.

If you stress about bringing your dog to the vet, there are options available to reduce stress for everyone to ensure your furry family members can experience fear-free visits.


Franklin Vets

Franklin Vets - excellence in veterinary care for dairy, farming, lifestyle, equine and household pets. BESTPRACTICE ACCREDITED NZ.