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Preparing Your Puppy for a First Vet Visit

Posted: 03/18/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Behavior , Dog , Top Tips

If you think back to your childhood days, a trip to the doctor was one of the worst ways to spend your afternoon. Your puppy feels the exact same way. No living thing likes to be prodded or poked, it’s just scary! But there are some things you can do to make that first vet visit a breeze for BOTH of you!

5 Tips for Making That First Vet Visit a Breeze

One of the sweetest things about having a puppy is getting to experience all of those “firsts” together. But that first vet visit… ouch… that can be a real beast. 

The truth is, vet visits don’t have to be scary to our fur babies. BY preparing puppies for the inevitable, you can help them see these visits as a pawsitive experience. Here are some steps we recommend:

Use a Fear-Free Vet Clinic

Look for clinics that are “fear-free” certified. This certification means the clinic staff has been trained to remove or reduce as many stress triggers as possible from the environment. These clinics focus on making sure pups and kitties are comfortable and relaxed as much as possible. The staff helps animals create positive associations with all aspects of vet visits, from initial arrival to exams, vaccinations, and more. 

A Breezy Car Ride

Most dogs love to go on car rides. But what do you do if your puppy feels anxious in the car? Spend some time allowing your pup to get used to being in a car. 

First just allow your dog to spend some time in the car with you with the engine off, parked in the driveway. Once they get used to that, start the engine and sit in the driveway for a few minutes. Be sure to praise them.

Finally, when your pup feels secure with the engine running, take them on a few short drives around the block. Each day, get your pup in the car start it, and drive around the block, praising them and making a fuss.

If your pup still seems a bit anxious, you may want to ask your vet about using something like ADAPTIL (DAP) spray. DAP mimics the pheromones a mother produces when her puppies are nursing to keep them calm. Many pup parents use DAP to help keep their pups calm during stressful situations, such as car rides and thunderstorms.

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Be Prepared

Ensuring your puppy has a good first vet visit means being prepared. What might you need to bring to make the experience positive from start to finish? Treats, toys and their blanket and bed are a few items that may help your pup feel comfortable and happy. Those slippery floors can be hard for little paws to navigate, so think about bringing a yoga mat or carpet runner to put down on the floor so your pup can feel safe and confident.

Have Some Fun

Once inside the exam room, feel free to help your pup have some fun. Vet offices aren’t libraries and no one says you have to sit there quietly, scrolling through your emails on your phone. 

Instead, get out one of the toys you’ve brought and have a little play time with your pup. This will help them to associate the exam room with fun. 

Be Your Puppy’s Advocate

If you live somewhere where there is not a fear-free clinic vet within 60+ miles of you, then you will have to be your puppy’s advocate to ensure their comfort is priority for everyone who interacts with them. 

As an example, there are many clinics that want to scoop up the puppy and whisk them to the back  where the examination and vaccinations will take place. Being separated from their human in this way can be very traumatizing for them. You are well within your rights to ask that all examinations and vaccinations happen in the exam room with you there. Most vets and vet techs will have no problem accommodating you. If your clinic has a problem, find a new clinic!

The Art of Distraction

Instead of lending a hand to try and restrain your scared puppy during the vaccinations, distract them instead. Bring a little dog-safe peanut butter with you and allow your pup to lick it off of a spoon or paper plate as the vaccinations are being given. Many puppies won’t even notice the shots have been given. Not only will the treat help distract your puppy from the vaccination, but it will continue to help them associate positivity with being handled by vet staff.

By preparing your puppy and making their first vet visit a fun and pawsitive experience, you can help them develop a wonderful relationship with the vet and clinic staff. 

Take the Fear Out of Paying Those Vet Bills

Our fur babies aren’t the only ones who can feel fear at the vet! Getting hit with an unexpected and costly vet bill can be very stressful. A pet insurance plan that reimburses you for up to 90% of the vet bill will bring you peace of mind.

Here are the top pet insurance providers – in order – based on over 150,000 authentic reviews from pet parents just like you:

Top Pet Insurance Providers of 2024

RatingProviderTotal Review
4.9Embrace14,519
4.9Healthy Paws7,498
4.9Trupanion60,419
4.9Fetch2,411
4.9Lemonade795
4.8Nationwide21,394
4.8Prudent Pet125
4.7ASPCA11,511
4.7Hartville164
4.7PetPartners111
4.7Spot5,831
4.6MetLife531
4.5Pets Best7,216
4.4AKC889
4.4Figo2,622
4.3Pet Assure12
4.3Pumpkin1,259
3.2ManyPets2,270

 

References:

  1. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/make-vet-visits-stress-free
  2. https://www.smalldoorvet.com/learning-center/puppies-kittens/positive-vet-experience
  3. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/health/taking-steps-to-making-vet-visits-less-stressful-for-your-pup/

 

Disclaimer

The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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