The Dreaded Vet Visit

Today (Vet’s Day, ironically) was Carter’s first appointment with a new veterinarian.

Carter has what’s commonly called ‘White Coat Syndrome’ as part of his general reactivity. In other words, new odors, strange people, enclosed spaces, strange dogs, new locations, etc. all freak him out, and when you wrap all those together, it’s Rodeo Time!

Muzzles don’t work with Carter because they freak him out even more – he knows something’s going on – plus, he can get out of any muzzle I’ve ever tried within seconds. I even tried a muzzle with a ‘cone’ last time. Both of them came off. And then he was Not Happy.

I usually give him his yearly shots, except rabies, myself, at home, to avoid vet visits. It’s easier for me to do it and the trauma is much less for him (he usually doesn’t even really notice; I just spread some kibble on the floor and stick it in while he’s browsing). But he needed a new prescription for fluoxetine (generic for Prozac), so he had to go to the vet.

Fortunately, things went well, emphasizing the importance of 1) getting a vet who works with reactive dogs and 2) being up-front and honest about what is likely to occur, as well as careful. Carter didn’t go inside this time – he waited in the car until the vet was ready to take a look at him, then I got him out of his crate, out of the car, and walked him around the lot a few times while the vet stood by and observed. Carter got within about 15 feet of her and also saw another dog from about 50 feet without going into meltdown mode, which was good for him. He went back into the crate and car easily. His only signs of stress were whining and high attention to everything around him (pricked ears, forward stance, stiff tail). He took a few treats from me, too. If he’s too stressed, he won’t eat.

Consider it a success – he wasn’t over threshold at any point. So our last two excursions have been good! Now, let’s keep it up!

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