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Baston animal behaviour expert Karen Wild shares the key to happy vet visits

Are you a dog smuggler when it comes to taking your pooch for those annual boosters and treatments?, asks Baston animal behaviour expert Karen Wild.

Do you have to spell V-E-T to your dog so they don’t realise the game is up?

It doesn’t need to be this way!

A young golden retriever puppy sits on a veterinarian's lap as she works through a routine check-up with the dog. Photo: istock
A young golden retriever puppy sits on a veterinarian's lap as she works through a routine check-up with the dog. Photo: istock

I often work with dogs who have been unwell or needing vet help and have formed a dislike to the necessary visits. And yet, they will need veterinary care throughout their lives! The dogs won’t know this of course, but we humans do.

It’s also a shame because vets are incredibly caring about animals, and that’s why they chose to work long hours and study for so many years. Just to be faced with an animal who really doesn’t want their help.

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We can do a lot more to help our dogs, and vets, by practising all the things the dog will need. Avoid waiting for any emergencies, as this makes things a lot worse. Your dog will need to be happy with so many parts of their lives, and here’s your chance to cement their welfare.

Karen Wild
Karen Wild

Our vets can help us with a lot more than just treatment for illness or emergency. They help us to keep up with vaccinations and flea, tick and other disease prevention. They also can advise us on more general health and tell us when our pet is perhaps getting a little on the larger side or perhaps need their teeth cleaning!

Firstly, make sure your dog is happy to meet other people in all situations when they are well. Do they shy away from being stroked or touched? This might make it very stressful when the vet is attempting to examine them more closely. Relax and cheer up your dog by pairing any touching and handling with something your dog loves, such as tasty food or their favourite toy. This needs to be worked on every single day, even just for a few seconds at a time, if you’re going to have success.

Will your dog let you examine them or restrain them in the same way that will be needed at the vets? Gently holding their collar, harness or shoulders, for example? Once again, practice at home, rewarding them with a really tasty treat whilst they stay happy and calm whilst you look at every body part you can. If they are reluctant, take your time and never force them!

If you have a smaller dog, the vet may need them to be lifted up onto a table for easier examination. This might otherwise be a rare event for your dog. Instead, place a rubber bathmat or similar onto a raised surface along with your dog's tastiest dinner, and allow your dog to get used to being lifted up and held safely on this higher platform whilst enjoying their snack.

Most of all, make it a regular and rewarding, so that your next vet visit is the best ever. Everyone will be grateful, your dog most of all.

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