“Is that a pig?” I’m hoping very few of you have been asked the same question as you bring your bully dog into the vet. My Amstaff is stout with a curly tail and has an unbelievably loud breathing issue that resembles a variety of farm animals when amplified by excitement.
If your bully dogs are anything like mine, they love being around other people and animals. Mine seem to blend elation with anxiety when it comes to vet visits. Over the years, I’ve learned some practical tips to ensure both my pit bulls and I have a stress-free or, at least, stress-reduced trip to the veterinarian. Most of these involve preparation and training well in advance of the first vet visit.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Part of the discomfort for my dogs appears to be being poked and prodded in ways they aren’t used to. My pitties not only get their medical care at the vet, but also their nail trims. Nail trims and some medical procedures involve holding your pup down on their side. We practice this at home by touching their feet frequently and laying them on their side. When on their side, they get lots of petting and kisses to make sure they love being on their side. Even though I don’t use a nail clipper at home, I picked one up and pretend to trim their nails so that they are used to the feeling.
When I’m out running errands, I like to bring my bullies with and make a stop by the vet clinic. Sometimes we stay in the car and other times we walk around outside. Either way, they get lots of treats to help them relate trips to the vet with a positive experience.
2. Find the Least Busy Day
When you’re ready to make an appointment, I have found that Fridays tend to be extremely busy at the vet. So I never schedule a Friday and always opt for the last appointment of the day as those are the least busy times at our veterinarian. However, I would recommend checking with your veterinarian to determine when they are most busy. The less chaos, the more likely your visit will be stress-free.
Don’t be afraid to cancel your appointment from the parking lot. There have been times where I’ve needed to cancel last minute if there’s too much commotion at the vet office. If I’m going to be stressed out, my fur babies will definitely pick up on it.
3. Prepare a Backpack & Bring It
The night before the vet visit, I pack a backpack with everything I’ll need to make the visit easier and worthwhile. This includes:
- Notebook and pen to take notes. I have a hard time keeping things straight with multiple pets, so this seems to be the easiest way to ensure any care instructions are captured accurately
- Folder with medical records. Again, it can be difficult with multiple pets to remember who had what shots when. It’s easy to keep all their records in one place with a folder for each dog
- Waste bags
- Treats or a favorite toy
Wearing a backpack ensures that I have both hands free to manage and/or distract my pittie.
4. Freeze Some Peanut Butter
Not every dog will find peanut butter enticing, but my bullies love it. I use a Kong or another rubber toy and chock it full of peanut butter. Then I freeze it overnight before the vet. It’s the last thing I grab as we’re heading out the door to the vet clinic.
While some vets keep peanut butter at their office, I find it easier to have my own that I can use to distract my pups while we’re in the waiting room or in one of the exam rooms. It definitely can be a bit messy as your dog is lapping it up, but this has been an absolute perfect way to calm and distract my excited bullies.
5. The Weigh In – Use a Bathroom Scale
If your dogs are afraid of the scale at the vet or too curious about all the other canine aromas emanating from it, you may find it easier to weigh them at home. I simply use a bathroom scale and subtract my weight as I hold them. Depending on the size of your bully, this may not be the easiest task. However, I find it significantly easier than trying to coax them onto the vet scale.
6. Keep a Kennel in Your Vehicle
If your dog has any anxiety or over-excitement about being in a vehicle, then I highly recommend crating your bully on the ride to the vet. Given the size of my bullies, I found it easier to buy a kennel that stays in my car rather than having to lug it around every time we go for a car ride. It’s been well worth the extra money to ensure a smooth visit.
7. Check In and Out Alone
The front desk is a prime area for potential issues at the vet since a variety of animals and people could be congregating in a very small space. Checking in and out without my dogs (leave them in the car) allows me to have both hands free to handle any paperwork, payments or medication. Instead of monitoring my dogs and their surroundings, I can focus completely on checking in or out.
This also allows me an opportunity to scope out the waiting room and the type of activity taking place in the vet’s office.
8. Arrive a Little Early
Now that you’re ready to bring your bully inside, give them a little time to sniff around outside the clinic and go to the bathroom. If your dog has any tendency to go to the bathroom when excited, you’ll be grateful you took the time to get to the clinic early and let them have some time to do their business. Otherwise, you could be cleaning up a mess in the clinic, which is a less than fun experience.
9. Separate Yourself in the Waiting Room
Since you scoped out the waiting room while checking in you’ll have a pretty good idea of where to bring your bully to have enough space away from other waiting pets. My bullies are always very curious about other pets so this helps prevent any unwelcome interactions. Our vet has a kids area at the far end of the waiting room that is almost always empty. I usually opt for this section even though we don’t have any kids in tow.
10. Never Wear White!
While I could use a variety of graphic stories to convince you of this, I’ll leave it to your imagination. This is also helpful in relation to tip #4. Do yourself a favor and don’t repeat the mistakes I’ve made by wearing a white coat or shirt. Rock-A-Bully black is always a good choice;-)
What vet visit tricks have worked best for you? Please share any vet visit tips in the comments section below.
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