dogs,  wellness

Oh Behave! At the Vet

My dogs have never liked going to the vet and I’m sure yours don’t either. They get stressed which makes me one wigged out dog-momma. We all know that when we’re stressed our dogs and cats pick up on it and react accordingly.

Years ago I had a chat with the front-line folks at my local veterinarian’s office to ask them what they wish pet-parents knew about behaving at the clinic and their wisdom makes as much sense today as it did in 2006.

Following are some tips to help you, and your dog have a better experience. (Plus you don’t want to end up in the “vetiquette don’ts” I’ll be sharing in future posts!

  • You’re not the only one feeling stressed. When your pooch doesn’t feel good, I know you don’t feel good either. When Deuce had a recent bout of vestibular disease I actually thought she was having a stroke. I called three vet clinics (it was a holiday of course) to find an emergency room that was open. I scooped her up, struggling to get my dizzy and nauseous 60 pound senior into the car and made one of the longest drives of my life. When I arrived though I remembered my vetiquette and did my best to answer questions without shouting and fill out paperwork without complaining. Somehow I managed to put myself in the shoes of the other humans coming in and waiting with their pets. We were all in the same boat and deserved the same high level of care. Being a good patient means being patient in situations like this.
  • People and their pets are there for different reasons.  That means when you and your Max are there for a check-up, the brunette in the chair next to you with her cat in the carrier may be waiting to say a final good-bye, or address the next steps after a devastating diagnosis. Give her and her pet some room and hold compassion for your fellow traveler in the pet parent realm. It’s not always easy to be present for someone else when your dog is stressed, but doing so could make a world of difference for a stranger and her dog.
  • Not everyone likes your type of pet. As hard as it is to imagine, some people, who love their cats, just don’t dig dogs. (and vice versa). That means not everyone wants YOUR dog sniffing around their pet. Do your best to give people and their pets space while in the waiting room.
  • Mind Your Business. Seriously. Pets and their humans deserve the same level of privacy as you do when you’re at your human doctor. Let people make health-care decisions and financial ones without the assistance of you breathing down their necks.
  • Do not offer treats to pets that do not live with you or are not under your care. Never mind vetiquette, this is PETIQUETTE 101! You have no idea what kind of issues are happening with that dog in the waiting room and whether or not your well-meaning offer of a treat will make things worse. Even if the dog is sniffing up a storm into your treat pocket – just say no! Feel free to ask their accompanying human if treats are cool, and if the human says “no” let it be.
  • Keep your dog on a leash. Yes. Your dog is well-behaved and has excellent recall. Yes. You are an excellent dog trainer and you may even think you might get a client or two who notes your prowess in the waiting room – but resist the temptation. Your dog is always a dog and that means if the dachshund shuddering beneath the chair in the corner feels threatened and charges, your pup may decide to defend herself. No need for me to tell you what kind of a mess that can lead to – physically, financially and spiritually.
  • You are as important as the next dog-owner. That means that you are NO MORE important than the next dog owner. Every veterinarian office I have visited has a team of kind and professional people working the front lines. (If I go somewhere where that’s not the case, I find another clinic!) Let them do their job and realize that they have a process for caring for you and all the pets in the office.

Now you’ve had your vetiquette reminders from me – what would you ADD to this list?

Are you a veterinarian, a vet-assistant or otherwise work with animals in a setting like this? I’d love to have you weigh-in!

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Writer and dog lover, helping pet-related businesses tell their stories.


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