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Avoid These Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make at the Vet

Learn the common mistakes people make when they’re dealing with the vet.

There are a few common mistakes people make when they take their dog to the vet. Review them and vow to avoid them to cultivate a great relationship with your dog's doctor and to get the absolute most out of your vet visits.

Don't Forget the Leash

When you take your dog to the vet, he must be on a leash. Even if your dog always stays right next to you and you never leash him, he must be on one for a visit to the vet. Dogs can react entirely out of character when they're nervous, and the vet clinic is a nerve-wracking place for many dogs. A lot is going on, there are other animals around that might not be friendly or could be too friendly, and cars in the parking lot are a potential hazard.

Additionally, you need to keep your dog leashed for the safety and comfort of other pet owners in the waiting room. And it makes it easier for veterinary staff to handle your dog if they need to.

Be sure your dog's collar fits properly—you should be able to slide two fingers between it and his neck. Use a snap leash with strong fittings that won't give way if your dog should decide to pull on them. It's also a good idea to make sure your dog is wearing ID tags with your up-to-date contact information on them just in case the unthinkable happens and he gets away from you.

Keep Your Dog Close to You

Many people like to give their dogs a long leash when they are in the vet clinic waiting room. After all, their dog is friendly and enjoys visiting with other dogs, people, and even checking out the cats in their carriers.

Keep your dog close to you and don't allow him to invade others' space in the waiting room.

Even though your dog is friendly, the other dogs might not be, especially in this particular situation, where they might be nervous or feeling protective of their owner. And cats usually don't like being sniffed and snuffled by unknown dogs. In fact, it could raise their stress levels so much that they'll be more difficult to handle, and that could negatively affect their own vet visit.

Be on Time or Call If You're Late

Veterinary clinics often run on appointments, and there's usually at least a short waiting time. However, because dogs and cats are often nervous and scared at the vet clinic, most places try to run as close to on schedule as possible to limit wait times. Do your best to be on time and, if you're running late, call and let the staff know. Then they can juggle other appointments or perhaps move yours so everyone will have a shorter wait.

Turn Your Cell Phone Off

You'll get the most out of your vet visit if you're fully present in the moment. Veterinarians and their staffs are vast sources of knowledge about dog care and behavior. Show up prepared to listen and glean as much of that information as you can. Take a list of questions and turn your cell phone's ringer off. If you do answer a call while your vet is examining your dog or talking to you, be prepared for him or her to leave the room. A veterinary clinic's schedule is usually tight, so if your vet doesn't have your attention, he or she will probably head on to the next thing and come back once you're off your phone.

Be Honest

This piece of advice can't be overstated. Honesty is crucial when you're dealing with your veterinarian. Without it, things can take longer, more tests might need to be done, and you may not get the results you're hoping for. Some common areas for dog owners to be dishonest with their veterinary staff include:

  • When reporting the dog's personality. If your dog is scared, shy, or known to growl, snap, or bite, let your vet's staff know right away. Many times, owners downplay or ignore what they perceive to be negative behavior from their dog, and doing so can put the veterinary staff at risk. Being honest means everyone can take steps to ensure their safety, make things easier for your dog, and even help you learn training techniques to curb the behavior over time.
  • When discussing things they think the vet will disapprove of. This is most common surrounding food issues. It's important to be honest when you tell your vet what and how much you feed your dog, including human food. That's the only way the doctor can coach you on proper foods and amounts to keep your dog as healthy as possible. Additionally, if your dog is sick, that information might be crucial to helping your vet determine the problem.
  • Agreeing to aftercare. Let your vet know what you can do regarding home care. For example, if you need to rest your dog but he is full of energy and runs around like a whirlwind after meals, tell your vet. That way, the doctor can give you tips or more information to develop an individualized plan for you and your dog. If you don't do so, you might not get the results you're hoping for with treatment. Also, when your vet gives you aftercare instructions, take them seriously and do your best to follow them closely. The recommendations are crafted for you to get the best results.

When you avoid these common dog owner mistakes, you'll be well on your way to getting the most out of your vet visits and developing a great relationship with your veterinarian that will last your dog's lifetime.

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