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When a vet visit goes badly…

June 5, 2011 36 comments

Recently, my brother called me quite upset. It seems he had just taken his dog, Dozer, to the vet to get a check up. His experience had left him extremely upset, mad, and feeling quite guilty.

I was more than a bit surprised by his experience because our dogs happen to go to the very same veterinary clinic. In fact, I chose this clinic BECAUSE of how well they cared for his last dog, Remy. They were great with my last dog, Aspen, and have been absolutely phenomenal with Daisy and Jasper. Listening to my brother’s story left me sad and very disappointed.

As the owner of a fearful dog, I know how stressful a vet visit can be. Knowing that Daisy’s vet and her staff are experienced in handling fearful dogs made all the difference for me. In Dozer’s case, he saw a new vet and a new staff person. I wasn’t there so I can only relate his experience through his eyes, but from what I can gather, there was a lot of man-handling (it took several staff to hold him down to draw blood) and the use of a muzzle. While Daisy likely would have just shut down in this situation, Dozer reacted by biting – thus the muzzle.

My first response after speaking with my brother was to contact my friend, Debbie Jacobs, over at Fearfuldogs.com and share his story. I asked her to please continue to spread her knowledge of how to work with and approach fearful dogs with dog owners and trainers, but to also share it with veterinarians. I suspect that many veterinarians are taught the medicine side of vet care, but perhaps not as much the animal behavior side – something that is so badly needed.

Thankfully, Debbie responded pretty quickly. It turns out that has already begun to connect with veterinarians. She is sharing her book with them and offering to meet with them individually to help them better understand how to handle fearful dogs. Just like many vets, Debbie wants to make the visit to the vet clinic as stress-free as possible.

Debbie also shared with me that Dr. Sophia Yin, animal behaviorist and veterinarian, has some great information for owners and veterinarians on her website. As luck would have it, a dog training friend of mine shared a wonderful post on this topic just today. It is here – I highly encourage people to read it and then pass it on to their veterinarian and other dog owners.

My brother still feels guilty for letting the vet and her staff do all that they did to Dozer and is looking for a new vet. I can only hope that his and Dozer’s experience hasn’t left a lasting impression that will haunt them both on future vet visits.

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