A trip to the veterinarian is a very important step in proper dog ownership. However many dogs do not know how to behave at the veterinarians, and neither do some of their owners.
Small dogs should always arrive in a kennel or carrier, unless injury has made this impossible. Larger dogs should always be on a short leash and under their owners control at all times. Puppies who are not vaccinated should certainly be kept off the floor, either in a carrier, box, or held on their owners lap.
Upon entering the veterinary office the owner should approach the receptionist and sign in. Most vets require appointments, with walk-ins only for emergencies. Depending on the situation the pet may be left in the vehicle while alerting the receptionist of your being there.
If you have brought a stool sample it should be double bagged and kept discrete. Past veterinarian records should be brought along also.
Some vet offices have separate waiting areas for cats and dogs, but it is never acceptable to allow a dog to wander freely in a waiting room. Not only may this upset some other clients, it may potentially expose the dog to sick animals. Dog owners should sit with their dogs as far away from any cats as possible, and ideally far away from any other dogs. While they may be there only for a check up, they may also be there due to illness.
When it is your turn bring your dog and follow as directed. Keep in mind that although veterinarians try to keep their floors clean at any time a diseased animal could be shedding a virus on the floor, the Parvo virus being one of the most concerning, for that reason if a dog is small enough to be carried, it should be.
In the examination room the owner should do their best to listen and answer responsibly. Talking about the latest news is not helping the pet if it is sick, but telling any possible related facts will. When did the dog last eat, did it eat anything it should not have, and when did you first notice a problem, are all important facts that should be shared. Lying to avoid looking neglectful does not help your dog.
It is the owners job to help keep the dog calm. A dog who has been to obedience lessons and is well socialized around strangers will be easier for a veterinarian to treat than one who has been kept isolated from the world and babied. If the owner is asked to leave the room, they should do so without fuss. Sometimes dogs act better when their over protective owner is not there.
It is normal for dogs to be nervous, and young or sick ones may defecate. A veterinarian will usually not be alarmed by this and an owner should not feel embarrassed. However shows of uncalled for aggression are unacceptable. If an owner knows their dog may bite they should inform the vet early on and muzzle if needed.
Owners should take note of their veterinarians instructions and advice, but should feel free to question it too, especially if they do not understand. Above all, get things in writing if this is a case where the owner must provide ongoing medical care at home.
If the animal is injured, old and suffering, or is otherwise at the veterinarian for euthanasia, the owner will be given the option of being there or not. Crying is allowed, but an owner should never place any guilt onto the veterinarian for doing their job. The veterinarian can also discuss options for the disposal of the body.
An owner should not fight with the veterinarian about the cost of any services, veterinary medicine is not a charity. Getting a second opinion is allowed.
Paying veterinarian bills on time is the final duty of an owner, but in some cases a “Thank You” card also goes a long way.