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How can I help my dog with a fear of the vet?

anxiety fear health Feb 21, 2023
A dog receiving an eye exam at the Veterinarian

Is your dog terrified of the vet? You're not alone. Many dogs dread the thought of a visit to the vet, which can make the experience unpleasant for everyone involved. But fear not, there are plenty of ways you can help your pup overcome their fear and make vet visits a walk in the park or.. a walk in the clinic!

First, you need to understand your dog's fear. Is it the vet's office itself that freaks them out, or is it the strange smells sights and sounds that come with the territory? Knowing the root of the issue can help you address it more effectively. For example, if your dog is afraid of the clinic, try taking them for a few non-vet-related visits. Let them explore the waiting room and get used to the environment when there is no fear-inducing activity going on. End the visit with a trip to their favorite store to pick out a toy, the park for a relaxing walk and some play, or grab an ice cream cone for the ride! Whatever it is keep it positive and fun.



If your dog's fear is related to the sounds and smells of the vet's office, try to desensitize them. Play sounds that mimic the noises heard at the vet's office, such as the beep of the scale or the sound of clippers. Start with low volumes and slowly increase over time, rewarding your dog with treats and praise for remaining calm.

Another helpful tip is to take things slow. If your dog is afraid of the vet, don't force them into a full exam right away. Start with a short visit just to say hello and give them a treat or two. Gradually increase the length of your visits over time to help your dog build up a positive association with the vet. It's important to find a compassionate Veterinary team that believes in Fear Free approaches, they can better provide your dog more understanding and patience to get through this hurdle. You can find Fear Free certified Veterinarians in your area, here.


And of course, don't be afraid to get creative! Some dogs respond well to natural remedies, such as essential oils, appeasing pheromones or calming music. Others may benefit from a special toy or treat that they only get during vet visits. Whatever works for your dog, stick with it!

Lastly, helping your dog overcome their fear of the vet takes time, patience, and a little creativity. Enlisting the help of a certified Canine Behavior Consultant like us here at Pawsome University can help you turn dreaded vet visits into a positive experience for both you and your furry friend. So, don't be afraid to put in the time and effort - your pup will thank you for it!