Whether you bring your pet in for a routine check-up or for some other and often unfortunate circumstance, visits to your vet are basically a necessity, right?  Unless your pet was raised to identify the vet as a regular and non-threatening part of their lives, chances are your pet and you have encountered some stress associated with those visits.  An animal that is unfamiliar with its surroundings or its handlers can exhibit signs of fear and stress,  resulting in behavior that may be out of character.  One bad experience can have traumatic effects on the animal, making it that much more difficult the next time another vet visit is in order.  In order to maximize your chances for a successful outcome to your next visit to the veterinarian's office,  here are some tips that you should keep in mind.

1. Get Them Comfortable with Being Handled

If you are able to, get your pet accustomed to handling at a young age.  It’s easier and more beneficial to initiate an animal to this non-threatening contact early on than it is to re-introduce them as adults.   This means lifting paws, checking teeth, grooming and so on.  Bring your pet to the veterinarian to socialize as well as for exams and/or shots.  If the animal is familiar with the vet, it will make check-ups and other visits less stressful for everyone.  Unfamiliarity is often what makes these visits problematic in the first place.  Adult dogs, if newly adopted, should be handled by you (the owner) before their first visit to the vet to assess any potential behavior issues.

2. Get Everything Together

Before the visit, make sure to have a copy of your animal’s vaccinations on hand.  Your vet probably has this information available, but it's a good idea to have copies in case of an emergency or if you're changing clinics.  If you’re unsure about what you need to bring, a quick phone call to the clinic can help to sort it out.  Kindly ask the clinic receptionist for advice on what to bring for visits or exams.  If you are bringing your pet in for a health or behavioral concern, taking notes beforehand about the issue is a great way to get your veterinarian all the  information he or she needs.  The better your vet understands what is going on, the more they will be able to help your beloved companion!

3. Always Bring Protection

More and more clinics are requiring the use of muzzles for dogs...this is also a great opportunity to gradually acclimate your dog to the use of a muzzle.  This can be a great opportunity for our pets to socialize with each other.  Keeping your animal boxed or on a short leash reduces the likelihood of fights (and tangled leashes).  It is very important to ensure the safety of other people, staff, and animals by maintaining control over your pet the entire time that you are there.

4. Don't Spectate...Participate!

There is a reason why you are there, whether it is a well-pet exam or you suspect something is wrong, it’s important that you are an active participant in the exam.  Your feedback will provide insight to the veterinarian, helping them to offer the proper care and treatment for your animal.  Feel free to ask the vet any questions that you may have.  The better you understand what is going on now can help you to avoid problems in the future.  If you are unclear about any aspect of your pet’s care, ASK!  That's what your vet is there for!

5. Trust Your "Animal" Instincts

Just as there are people that are doctors that probably shouldn’t be, the same is unfortunately true with vets.  Animals have a pretty keen sense of what type of person someone is, and a pet that otherwise exhibits good behavior may seem to have problems with a particular person... Perhaps it's not the animals fault!  Ask yourself: Have I noticed that this vet is too rough or impatient with my pet? Does this person "get" my pet?  Bring your concerns up with your vet.  If they make an effort to adjust their demeanor, great!  They may not have even been aware of what they were doing (or not doing). However, if after you bring it up the vet doesn’t seem to be concerned, or carries on as before, perhaps it is time to consider a new vet!  Is it too much to ask for, to have a veterinarian that will treat you and your pet with respect?  We certainly don't think so.

Visiting the vet is a necessity and an investment in the well-being and life of your pet.  It should be another safe and friendly place your pet goes to with minimal stressors and concerns.  A happier pet is a healthier pet, and a healthier pet makes for a happier owner (who in turn is a healthier owner)!  A worry-free visit has benefits for all of you. Visiting the vet can be a bit of a stressful experience and can possibly lead to stress induced responses such as diarrhea. If that happens, don't worry too much. Ask you vet about giving your pet a supplement such as Fortiflora which is especially formulated for this type of occurance.