My Pet Hates the Vet! By American College of Veterinary Behaviorists on January 5, 2015

It is always disheartening to take your pet to see your veterinarian and have it turn into a nightmare. A lot of emphasis has been placed on socializing our puppies to new people and situations. However, many people forget to introduce their puppies and kittens to positive experiences and interactions at their local veterinary clinic. Think of what we put our pets through when we take them to the veterinarian. The only time our pets see the veterinarian is when they need their vaccinations or when they are not feeling well. They may initially be eager to explore a new place and get attention. Then suddenly they are firmly held and poked in the rear with an intrusive object. Just as they have gotten over that insult, ouch, they get poked with one or more sharp needles. Then they are ushered out and won’t see the inside of the veterinary clinic until one year later.

In another scenario, your pet is either not feeling well or in pain from an injury and its tolerance with dealing stress, strangers and pain may be at an all-time low. A dog or cat that may be tolerant of strangers handling him or her may suddenly exhibit aggressive behavior. This aggressive behavior is distance increasing behavior. If I wasn’t feeling well, I certainly would not want a random stranger to poke and prod at me. Unfortunately when an animal is injured or ill, the veterinary staff may need to perform some procedures that the pet may be less tolerant of. The increased stress the pet experiences even though the veterinary staff may have been very gentle, unfortunately may color this last veterinary visit. In the pets mind, they may have formed a very negative association with being at the veterinary clinic. Flash forward one year when the owner needs to bring the pet in for its yearly examination. All of a sudden, their previously tolerant and patient pet now is out of control lunging, scratching, vocalizing and may possibly try to bite the veterinary staff. The owner is embarrassed. Everyone including the pet are stressed and unhappy.

It is so important after a visit to the veterinary hospital to remember to bring your pet back for happy veterinary visits. They should enter the clinic and receive tons of positive reinforcement, tasty treats and praise from the owners and the veterinary staff. Therefore they ensure the pets’ last memories of the veterinary clinic is pleasant.


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