How good behavior can lead to better health

by Dr. Mary Ellen McCullen Cross County Veterinary Service

It is a typical busy Monday at the clinic.  In two exam rooms, two black labs are waiting to begin their annual examinations complete with vaccinations and a heartworm test.  In the first room, Frisky pants and paces.  Terrified, she provided a fecal sample in her owner’s car on the way here.  As I enter the room Frisky ignores the treats we offer and wedges her one hundred and five pound body under the owner’s chair.  During the course of the exam Frisky shakes and pants.  She needs three people to hold her still enough to draw the three drops of blood needed for a heartworm test.   Finally, the owner’s annual chore is over and Frisky can return home.  “She isn’t like this at home” the owner exclaims, while cleaning fur and saliva from her shirt.

In the second room, Angel waits patiently with her owner.  She rises to greet us as we enter, happily gobbling down the treats we offer.  She enjoys the kind words and pets during her exam. She is still for most of the exam with the exception of a wagging tail.  Angel doesn’t mind when the assistant gives her a hug when we need to draw blood for her heartworm test.  She pants occasionally, but actually seems bored for most of the time her owner and I are talking.

Would you rather visit the vet with Angel or Frisky?  There is one way to have an “Angel” at the veterinarian.  The best part is that it’s free – and all that it takes is your time.  When you first have a new puppy, make vet visits more frequently than just for exams and vaccines.  Stop by even every week for affection and treats from the office staff.  Let us practice checking your new pup’s weight.  Show that fun things can happen with a veterinarian.  After all, we do love dogs!  Practice their basic commands while they are here, of course with more praise.  The same progress can be made with older dogs, just with a bit more time and sometimes creativity.

The benefits of a well behaved dog at the vet are more than just avoiding feces in the car and saliva on your shirt.  Studies have shown that a significant number of pet owners avoid basic preventative care for their pets due to their best friend’s anxiety and stress.  A little bit of time now can keep your pet happy at the vet and just as importantly, healthy too.