The Veterinary Lobby: Safety Tips for Dogs
Does your dog love their visits to the veterinarian? We sure hope so! However, it’s important as a pet owner to remember that not all of the pets at the hospital share the same experience when visiting the vet. The hospital lobby is generally quite a busy and sometimes noisy place. This can cause some stress for certain pets, such as those with a timid demeanor, senior dogs, and cat patients at the hospital.
Our goal is to provide a great veterinary experience for everyone visiting our hospital. There is some basic etiquette that pet owners should be aware of and follow. Here we provide some safety tips and guidelines on bringing your dog to the vet’s office to ensure that everyone can have a comfortable, calm, and safe experience.
Control That Leash
No matter how well trained your pup is, having them on-leash is a necessity while visiting the vet's office. There is just too much activity in the enclosed confines of the lobby and situations can arise quickly. The leash should be held by an adult and be 6 feet or shorter in length. A standard nylon leash is preferable to a retractable leash, which doesn’t provide the control needed. Leashes should be attached to a sturdy collar, harness, or Gentle Leader. It’s always a good idea to check the leash and collar at home before heading out to the hospital to make sure they are working properly. If you have a very small dog, especially one that is timid, a carrier is also an option for them.
Know Your Dog’s Demeanor
By being aware of your dog's demeanor and personality, you can take steps to provide a stress-free visit or greatly reduce the stress they experience at the vet’s office, as well as ensure that those pets and pet owners around them don’t get stressed too.
With timid dogs you can use treats or other rewards to make the visit a fun experience for them. Consider asking your vet about “happy” visits where your dog can just come to say hello and get treats with no exam, vaccines, or any potentially stressful procedures. These are good practice runs to get your dog familiar with the experience.
For excited dogs, be sure to have a firm hold on the leash. Communicate with people in the lobby and encourage them to only say “hi” when your dog is sitting so as to not create more excitement.
For aggressive dogs, you should call from the parking lot so that the staff can ensure there is an open exam room. This way, you and your dog can be brought directly into a room without waiting in the lobby.
Very Ill Dogs
The safety and comfort of all animals visiting our hospital are vitally important. Any pets that are very sick, especially if contagious, should be kept out of contact with other animals. If you have a very ill dog, we can discuss protocols for handling them to get them to the hospital. Additionally, you should call from the parking lot so that the staff can make the appropriate arrangements to get your dog into the exam room without any contact with other animals in the lobby.
Young puppies will not have their vaccines and preventive medicines administered until they reach a certain age. As such, it’s best practice to keep them from interacting with other animals in the lobby as an extra precautionary step. Puppy classes will be a great time to have them interact with other puppies. Once they have received all of their vaccines and preventives, the dog park will be a great place to socialize your pup.
By working on basic behavior training with your dog you can help keep them under control when interacting with other pets as well as with the veterinary staff. Simple commands such as “sit” and “stay” are effective ways of keeping them from making other animals uncomfortable in the hospital lobby.
General Safety Tips
There are other basic safety considerations that may seem obvious, but it’s always good to remind yourself.
Don’t Leave Your Pet Unattended
Even if you have a small dog and use a carrier, you should never leave your dog unattended. Whether to take a phone call or text, or to talk with a friend, never let go of the leash or tether them someplace. It’s a good idea to avoid those distractions altogether while in the lobby so you can keep a watchful eye on your dog. Other animals and people can approach your pup quickly, so it’s best to keep focused.
Don’t Let Go of the Leash
Again, it may just be simple distractions that can cause you to let go of the leash, so keep alert. Be sure to check the collar and leash at home to make sure they are working properly.
Don’t Leave Your Pet in a Hot or Cold Car
Despite all of the messaging and awareness, incidents of pets being left in hot or cold cars still occur. Even on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle with windows cracked can reach 90-100 degrees within minutes. Save your errands to do for another trip out.
We hope these tips help you in ensuring a safe and comfortable visit for you and your dog, as well as the other pets visiting the hospital. If you have any questions before scheduling an appointment, don't hesitate to call your vet. Don't have a trusted vet yet? We can help you find a local veterinarian!