View Full Version : Very fearful of vet visits - any advice?

8th January 2009, 04:13 PM
Hi All!

Its been a while since I've been here. Was wondering if someone can offer me some advice...

Meenah was hit by a car the week before Christmas. No broken bones but the skin in the front of one of her front paws was badly damaged. The first couple weeks after the accident, I took her to the vet's every other day to have the bandages changed. Now I take her every 3 to 4 days as she is healing. She is in fact healing nicely and won't need any surgery or skin grafts as they expect the skin to grow back on it own. At home, she is in great spirits and is her old self. Except for the fact that I can't take her for walks or let her run around in the yard, she is alert and happy.

The problem we're having is that although our vet visits are less frequent than they used to be and the bandage changes are easier and less painful, she is seeming more and more fearful when we're there. When we get to the vet's, she insists on sitting on my lap in the waiting room whereas she used to want to wander around the room and sniff everything. She also shakes a little. And last time I took her in (two days ago), she was on the floor when the nurse came to get her. When the nurse bent down and picked her up, she urinated right there on the floor. She hasn't done this submissive urination since she was a young puppy months ago. So she must have been very very frightened.

I certainly understand why she is so fearful now, after what she's been through with all the more painful and more frequent bandage changes. But what can I do to help her and make it better for her? I don't want to sedate her. I feel so bad.

8th January 2009, 04:36 PM
Aww, poor thing. I can understand why she is so fearful, she has bad associations with the vet now. Lots of dogs do. So, now you have to try to make the visits a little more positive.

Bring a bag of the BEST treats you have (chicken, etc). As soon as you pull into the vet's parking lot, give a treat. Put the leash on, treat. Out of the car, treat. Into the waiting room, treat.

While in the waiting room, if she is obedience trained, perhaps try to work on simple things so she is not just sitting on your lap and worrying. Do sits, stays, down, etc and treat, treat, treat as a distraction. If she is acting worried, do not treat. You only want to treat when she is acting normal or distracted, in my opinion (and please correct me if I'm wrong- I am no trainer!).

When the nurse comes, hand her a treat and have the nurse treat her. Hopefully if you continue the positive associations (food) with the vet visits, she will be less fearful eventually.

Good luck! I feel for both of you.

8th January 2009, 05:28 PM
I second the "treats in the office"-the best you have. Carry them into the exam room and get the Vet and helper involved,too. A quick visit to the Vets for a "treat"-just in and out-can help overlay the "injury visits". Had the same reaction when I had multiple dental visits -few treats might've helped LOL.

8th January 2009, 06:11 PM
Give her time and more time in time she will get better
---Aileen and the gang (Barney---Jazzie---Jake)

8th January 2009, 06:28 PM
What a traumatic time the poor little girl has had. I know it might
be a bit of a hassle but why don't you try taking her in when she does
not require any work on her paw, she hopefully would then not associate
the vets and nurses with hurting her all the time.
Of course the treats sound a wonderful idea as well:thmbsup:

8th January 2009, 06:30 PM
It's understandable that she would associate the Vet's surgery with a traumatic experience.
I'm glad she wasn't seriously injured,it sounds like a miracle that she escaped with "only" flesh wounds.
Can you crate her while she's waiting to see the vet?
If not,keep her in your arms and don't let anyone else pick her up.
Treats would help.
Keep the visit short,in and out as quickly as possible.
Can the veterinary nurse show you how to change the bandages so you can do this at home? That might be less traumatic and reduce the frequency of visits required?
Hope your little angel recovers quickly, this must be a dreadful ordeal for you.

8th January 2009, 07:31 PM
Thanks for all the input! The idea of treats is great. Meenah's next visit is tomorrow so I will bring a bag of Pupperoni, her favorite Milk Bone cookies, and maybe some cheese and hot dog pieces. I'll give her treats on the way in and do some easy training with her to distract her and boost her confidence.

They don't recommend I come in with them. The wound is very raw as there is no skin there and there is a whole process they go through to clean it, apply ointments, and bandage it up. Its not something I can do at home. My husband has gone in with them before, as he has a mush stronger stomach than I do, and even he has told me that I should not go in and that we wouldn't be able to change the bandages ourselves.

I like the idea of coming into the vet's when there is no appointment too. That is not so easy for me to swing, working full time and having three kids to take care of too! I'll try that this afternoon if I possibly can.

I'm hoping that she'll get less fearful of the vet visit as they are not as frequent and less uncomfortable too.

This has been an incredibly difficult and emotional experience for all of us. We are so glad it wasn't worse. I saw it all happen. Its really sad to see her suffer through it. She's so much better and happier now. She wants to run and play freely, but I have to limit her activity for a few weeks more. She is such a trooper.

8th January 2009, 08:18 PM
Aww so glad that Meenah is alright!!!

Both of my dogs LOVE going into the vet's office. My vet gets her face down and asks for kisses, gives my dogs lots of hugs and pets, and always treats them and talks to them in the "awww you're so cute!" voice. I really appreciate that she's so loving and acts like she cares so much about my doggies. :) I second the treat thing though. I do keep my dogs on my lap inside the office though.

12th January 2009, 03:05 PM
Hi All!

Just wanted to give you an update. I ended up having to take Meenah into the vet's last Thursday night instead of our scheduled Friday visit for the bandage change. Thank goodness they are open late on Thursdays! I was giving Meenah dinner when I noticed she was licking her bandaged leg like crazy. The bandage had actually slipped down and quite a bit of her wound was exposed! By the time I had gotten off the phone with the vet's office, to tell them I am coming now, the bandage had completely come off!! I put a plastic bag over her paw, had her go potty outside, grabbed the bag of Pupperoni, and went to the vet's. As soon as I parked I started giving her bits of the treat. All the way inside too. When the nurse came out, I stopped her and explained that Meenah's been getting more and more fearful and to please "make friends" before taking her. She took the treat bag out back with Meenah and this time no piddling like she did last time. Meenah was sitting on the bench when the nurse picked her up, whereas last time, Meenah was on the floor and the nurse had bent straight down over her to pick her up. I think that when Meenah is already fearful and someone bends down over her like that, that's when she submissively urinates (happened before when I took her to a doggy daycare that she no longer goes to). Anyway, when they returned her to me, they said she was fine out back but wouldn't take any treats from them, just spit them out. Oh well.

Today, we go for another bandage change. I'll bring the treats again and hope for the best!

12th January 2009, 09:25 PM
Well at least she didnt Pee this time, so thats an improvement. Had to laugh at how she spat their treats back at them, even though they are the exact same ones you give her. Which just goes to show that she loves who she loves and cant be bribed.:):) Hope she very soon improves and wont need to go so often.
Take care

13th January 2009, 03:44 PM
I really want to thank you all for your input, advice, and good wishes! Its so great to have a place to go for support and information!

We went for another bandage change yesterday and Meenah did well! She was fearful when we got there but I did training with her in the waiting room and kept giving her treats. I kept myself happy and upbeat like we were playing. When the nurse came out I talked to her about not bending over Meenah and making friends first (it was the same person who triggered Meenah's submissive urination last time), and she was very understanding and kind. She took her time and gave her a treat. She squatted down this time with her side to Meenah and picked up up gently, so she was fine! When Meenah came back out after the bandage change, her tail was out from under her, wagging happy, and she walked around the room and met the other dogs and people there quite happily! She was so relaxed that she had a lay down in the middle of the floor, tail thumping, as she waited for me to settle up and make the next appointment!