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Dr. Scarlett
Dr. Scarlett, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 4110
Experience:  I am a practicing small animal veterinarian with 18 years experience.
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Hi. My dog is a West Highland Terrier. She has in general

Resolved Question:

Hi. My dog is a West Highland Terrier. She has in general got no behaviour problems apart from when she goes to the Vet. As a puppy she had a bad experience and since then she is almost impossible to handle once on the Vets table. She will scream as if badly injured and he did not even touch her yet. She will eventually have to be held tight by a nurse, with an end result of her wetting herself. All just to get her yearly booster. I dread to think what will happen if she one day gets really ill and need to go more often! I have even tried to use Calmex and today we used two tables. She was basically almost asleep until she got to the Vets surgery and as soon as she goes into the examination room her bad behaviour starts. Till then (even in the reception room) she is fine. We are taking her to the vets surgery when we have a moment and a nurse will put his on the exam table, use treats to try and take her attention away, but her behaviour keeps getting worse. Is there anything else I can try? Today I even tried sitting on the floor with her, but as soon as the vet simply touched her behind her neck (not even a needle close by) she screamed as if she was getting murdered.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Scarlett replied 3 years ago.
Dr. Scarlett :

Hi,

Dr. Scarlett :

So sorry to hear about Tara and her experiences at the vet. I have a Westie patient who does the exact same thing. I don't believe he's had a really bad experience at the vet (although I didn't start seeing him until he was older), but I do know he pretty much rules the house and the owner lets him get away with everything at home. So that doesn't help when we need to be in control!

Dr. Scarlett :

I also tried alprazolam on him, with pretty much the same results you found when you gave calmex to Tara. We also have a calming dog pheromone in our exam room and I spray myself with it. My patient is fine until I try to touch him!

Dr. Scarlett :

We finally have resorted to giving him a reversible sedative called Dexdomitor IM. He is "on to us" now, so my tech actually goes outside where he is sniffing around the grass. This last time the owner gave him a hamburger from McDonalds which distracted him enough that my tech could inject the drug in his leg. Then we wait about 10-15 min in a quiet, darkened room, and he goes to sleep. Then we can trim his nails, give him a thorough physical exam, take blood (if needed) and vaccinate him. He is then given a reversal agent and within 10 min is up and walking out the door.

Dr. Scarlett :

It sounds extreme, but I think it makes the whole vet visit much less stressful for everyone--especially the dog and his owner! As you've found, Tara's anxiety increases with each vet visit and the oral medications are just "overrided" when she gets more anxious.

Dr. Scarlett :

Another option to consider is to look for a vet that makes housecalls. Maybe with Tara in her own environment, with the Calmex tablets, she would be more calm and could give the vaccine. But the exam is really the important thing--the vaccines are kind of secondary.

Dr. Scarlett :

I assume that apart from the anxiety at the vet's, she is a calm dog at home?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr Scarlett

You are correct. She has no other behaviour issues. She is a very happy dag, she has rules and knows when she is wrong, she is easy with all other dogs and loves people. I always try to be as calm as possible but I guess her actions reflect on me and then she will pick up my anxiety increase as I feel the vet/nurse think I am at fault for the dogs behaviour, but there is really nothing we can do to ease her stress. She is all very happy to sit in the waiting room, her issue I have to agree, is the smell she picks up from them maybe? I will discuss your points with my vet and see how they would like to progress in future, as I am not prepared to go through this one more time.

Expert:  Dr. Scarlett replied 3 years ago.
While I can't speak for all vets, I hope that the vet/nurse isn't really judging you! Dogs, people, we all get anxious going to the doctor! And when your pet acts up (or child) we take it personally. I know that the vast majority of the anxious dogs I see are well-behaved at home and it sounds like your are NOT like my Westie's owner--I don't think she has any rules for him! : )

Good luck!

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