For anyone with a dog, visits to the vet are inevitable. Even if it's for nothing more than their regular vaccinations or check-ups, responsible dog owners will visit their veterinarians at least once per year. For someone with multiple dogs like me, going 10 or 12 times a year is not unusual. Although the visits aren't always something we look forward to, there are rules we can follow to make the visit less stressful for both us and our dogs. Here are some basic rules to follow.
Make an appointment in advance when possible.
Unless you have an emergency, you should always make an appointment in advance for your dog. Even if your vet's offices allows walk-ins, you're likely to have to wait considerably longer than if you had an appointment. This wait can be stressful for your dog, and thus, stressful for you as well.
Be on time.
My veterinarian sometimes schedules appoints every 20 minutes. When a patient shows up late, it has the potential of throwing off the entire schedule. This may result in you having to wait longer than normal.
Make sure your dog is properly restrained.
Never take for granted that all pets in your vet's office will get along with your dog. Bringing your dog in unrestrained has the potential to cause a dangerous skirmish with another animal that could result in injury, even to the people in the waiting area. Either have your dog on a short leash or in a crate when visiting the vet.
Be prepared to settle your bill while there.
All vets that I know require payment at the time of service. If you will be using a credit card, call ahead to make sure they accept the type you plan on using. Do not expect that you can be billed for services and pay over time. This is not the norm with veterinary services.
Take your dog for a walk before you go in.
Vet visits can be stressful for dogs. Strange people, strange animals and people poking and prodding their bodies can take their toll. For this reason, take your dog on a nice walk before entering the vet's office to give him a chance to relieve himself and burn off a little excess energy.
Bring you dog's medical and shot records with you.
If this is your first visit to this particular vet, be sure to bring all your dog's medical records with you. Better yet, contact your prior vet and have them transfer everything over in advance. Your new vet will need to know your dog's past medical history in order to treat him properly and safely.
The bottom line is that the health care of our dogs is closely related to our own in many ways. In order to provide them the best care available, we need to take their doctor visits seriously and handle them much as we would our own.
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