Monday, August 19, 2013

Your Puppy and the Vet

Last week a 5month old dog came into the clinic for an exam and vaccines. When the veterinarian tried to scan the dog for a microchip -  a simple thing, the dog growled and tried to bite the vet. The vet went to get a muzzle, so that she could finish trying to scan the dog, as well as try to continue her exam, when she tried to apply the muzzle the dog proceeded to scream and pee and poop all over while doing the alligator roll and trying to bite.

People of the internet, THIS IS NOT NORMAL! This kind of behavior is NOT okay.

This type of dog is rare and fairly extreme in terms of his reaction to the overall visit - in which he could not have a complete exam. However, it made me think that it would be good to write a blog post about what YOU can do, to make going to the vet better and easier on your dog.

I'm gearing this mostly toward puppies, but all of this can be utilized with an adult dog.

Making your dog's 1st appointment:
-When you call to make your appointment, shoot for a date two weeks away from the day you're calling.
- After you book your appointment, let the receptionist know that you want your puppy to become familiar with the vet clinic, and that if possible you would like to bring your puppy in for treats and to get on a scale. Most likely the clinic will either ask that you call ahead, or they will offer a time that is best during the day to do this.
-Since you have two weeks before your appointment make it a point to go to the clinic and weigh your puppy at least 3-4x. You're doing a few things here, you're familiarizing your dog with the clinic, your dog is getting yummy treats so they are understanding this place has good things, AND you are also familiarizing your pup with getting on the scale - which is something that will be a part of their exam.

Things to do before your appointment:
-Familiarize your pup with being touched all over. The vet is going to feel their tummy and should also do a mild orthopedic exam - they will be picking up all four of their feet and moving their legs. The vet will also be looking at its ears, checking its teeth, etc. It's helpful if you can get your pup used to being handled in this manner - again, use lots of cookies as a reward when they allow you to touch and mess around with them so they understand it isn't a big deal. This is also something that you should encourage friends/family to help you with so that your pup is used to being handled by different people. Don't forget lots of treats!
-If your puppy is showing a potential to be fearful, or fear aggressive like barking or growling at strangers, get your pup used to a muzzle! You can start with an over sized muzzle that you can still feed treats through, and eventually upgrade to a smaller fitting size. The whole idea with this is that if your puppy does get very scared, or if YOU get very scared, your pup can easily be muzzled because they have had one on before and it is not a big deal.
-Get your puppy used to being leaned over, held onto, and picked up. In most cases with a young puppy they are familiar with being picked up/carried. If you have gotten an older dog from the shelter who is larger I wouldn't focus so much on trying to pick them up, but I would get them used to being held [like a hug/embrace]. 

These things are pretty basic, but I cannot stress enough that taking your puppy or adult dog to the vet for treats/weigh ins is really crucial to helping them develop a good association with the vet clinic. So often people only come in when their pets are due for their physical - which mostly means for the dog "I am going here to get poked! No thanks!"

Most clinics should be happy to help you in terms of socializing your dog to their clinic, it makes it easier for everyone when your dog is not stressed out.

I really take for granted that my dogs can come to work with me. They come to the clinic everyday, it isn't a scary place at all and they feel comfortable there. I have taken both Seppel and LiLo to see the orthopedic vet here in Portland and in both instances neither dog was really concerned about being in a vets office.

Puppy LiLo 'cause we're talking puppies.

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