The Clues to Why YOUR Dog May Hate the Vet

Research shows that most dogs hates going to the vet. So much, in fact, that even the mention of the “V” word causes panic in the household. Believe us, we see it at Freddie’s Place, the looks on the pets faces, physical signs of worry, bathroom accidents that never happen at home, aggression that is out of character from your fur kids, strange sounds like whimpers/barks/howls, and burying themselves behind or under whoever brings them… these are all normal sights and sounds in most veterinary offices or urgent care hospital waiting rooms around the world. Even the most steady and assured, calm and cool doggo can turn into a tiny terror when faced with a wellness or urgent vet appointment. They don’t keep their disdain of a vet visit secret, from anyone. The real mystery to solve is, WHY? Why is the vet such as stressful and negative event in your dogs life?

You don’t have to be Holmes, Sam Spade or Magnum P.I. to follow the trail of clues in this mystery. It all comes down to one main reason, FEAR. Your pets are afraid, so much so that it becomes mood altering and crippling to them. Think about your personal experiences before one of your Doctors appointments and how often are you anxious, with your stomach in knots, wavering between canceling or keeping the appointment, sweating, snapping at everyone you meet, and you’re generally off your game. So WHY do you act this way? You’re AFRAID, afraid of the known and unknown. It doesn’t matter that, logically, you know nothing bad is going to happen to you, besides maybe some uncomfortable testing or shots. Mentally a doctor’s office pulls images of everything bad you’ve experienced, read, seen, heard from friends, or that your mind can conjure up. If you can feel this way, even with your ability to reason and understand, then it has to be full on panic inducing in your fur kids. Their language barriers, heightened senses, and “fight or flee” DNA, triggers when they meet at the intersection of Vet’s Lobby Road and Strange Things all Around You Avenue. It’s the perfect storm for fear.

This all makes sense, right? The things described so far are probably not shocking or unbelievable to anyone. It’s breaking down the bigger “WHY” that allows you to get inside of your dogs head, determine their fears, then attempt to find solutions to lessen or eliminate these roadblocks, thus creating a more successful and less-stress experience for everyone involved. Lowering the stress, and making the vets office an okay place to visit, will have the ripple effect of a calmer pooch and finding the fix to what ails them in less time. So let’s talk about the common reasons your dog feels the fear that creeps into their heads when faced with the vets office.

Why Dog’s Hate the Vet

  • The Environment

    Regardless if it’s the first visit, or a road traveled many times, upon entering the vets front door your bestie is immediately submerged into an environment of sights, smells and sounds that are off putting. The lobby area is full of strangers, it’s normally unwelcoming and cramped, smells like the fear and loathing of the last few dozen victims before them, it’s noisy with the whimpers/barks/snarls of other pets, and the stress is so thick you could cut it with a well placed sharp claw. Why wouldn’t they think something horrible is about to happen to them?

    And if it’s not their first rodeo at this vets office, every past experience comes flooding back to them. Yes, dogs remember. They remember people, sticks and pokes, the thermometers intrusion, strange voices, being taken out of the room and away from their parents, noises and smells that lead to more bad things. These are their memories of what a vets office visit will bring them. Consider that all of this could be happening when they feel terrible.

  • My Parents Seem Worried

    Emotions run high in a vets office. Your fur kids spend every day watching you, WATCHING YOU. Having a dog is never having privacy again, we all know that. It’s part of the big trade-off for the love and devotion you receive. With their knowledge of your smells and looks, wouldn’t it make sense that they feel your stress and worry? So if you’re in a tizzy over their condition, or the cost, or the concern of the unknown, then your dog is already keen to the 4-1-1 of your emotions.

  • Stranger Danger

    In a strange environment, full of other stressed and sick people, with smells of death and illness in the air, crammed into a tight space, sitting nose-to-nose with a dog you’ve never seen before, feeling emotional roller coaster rides happening unexpectedly all around them, WHILE you aren’t well, is bad enough. Suddenly, strangers come and grab you, then take you into another small closed in room. If I’m your fur kid, my fear level just jumped to another level.

    Let’s face it, bedside manner is a fleeting skill. People are becoming less personable, soft skills are lacking in customer service positions. In hospitals and clinics workers often become desensitized to the daily routine of pain, death and emotion to protect their own well-being. Finding someone with a genuine soothing tone or gentle touch is more and more rare. These strangers they are meeting are all tired, gloomy, and sometimes disconnected from what is happening to them. Your pet is a number, a statistic, a tick on the ledger, another face in the hundreds of faces they will see in a week.

  • The Long Ride to Doom

    It could be that it’s not the vet or the office, but the trip to the vets. You’ve put them in their crate, hurried them into the car and are now speeding to the clinic. They feel your stress and react. Maybe they don’t like to ride at all, so this is just another brick in the wall of their anxiety surrounding cars. If they are sick or feeling awful, this just ramps up their already heightened state of angst, and now Rover associates the ride with the vet visit. Its a double shot of impending doom.

  • WHO is WHAT is that

    If your dog has not been socialized, if they don’t interact with other animals or humans then this trip to an often crowded, emotionally charged, powder keg of fur creatures sniffing/crying/whimpering will be horrible for them. Not to mention the intrusion into their personal space and strange hands all over them during the exam. Be sure you socialize your dog, get him comfortable with other people and animals. If the shock of strangers touching and moving them around is lessened, a vets visit won’t be as traumatic.

  • Lost and All Alone

    Remember that time when your Mom didn’t go with you into the exam room? You know, the time she left you all alone with strangers that didn’t speak your language as they probed and prodded you? You don’t remember that? It’s because IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! And, it shouldn’t happen with your pet, either. Stay with them in all situations you possibly can. Seeing and being with Mom and Dad naturally lessen stress. If your fur kids can see you, they at least know you’re close and protecting them. If you have to leave your pet at the vets, be sure you leave something that has your scent on it. Always put yourself in a dogs mindset before you make choices for them. Think “If I was my buddy, what would I think was happening?” then move to make the situation as normal as possible.

How Can YOU Help Normalize a Vet Visit for your Dog?

  • Have a plan

    Going to the vet should be a once or twice a year normal thing. Wellness visits are part of a dogs life, and opportunity for education, trial and error when it comes to what your dog thinks is happening to them. Use these visits as road maps, then adjust your routine to help normalize the situation. The more you go to the vet, the easier it should become, IF you’re paying attention. Find out who the players are in the vets office and see who your pet connects with, or who is more likely to pay that special attention in a way your dog likes. If it’s an emergency, call ahead to get advice and let the clinic know you’re coming. It could cut down on wait time and triage/diagnosis time when they know you’re en route.  LISTEN and ACT on suggestions from the staff. After all, they are the pros and have likely been through it all before.

  • Stay in your Own Lane

    You may be the boss at home, the expert in ‘Your Dog 101”, and well versed in their everyday routines and actions. However, once you’re in the vets office, don’t try to be the star of that show. Listen, respond, provide what the vet needs from you, and DON’T interfere.

    We all know how hard it is when your baby is sick, crying or afraid. If you have a veterinarian you have entrusted to fix what’s ailing your dog, then LET THEM WORK. Ask questions, yes, but remember you are not a trained doctor. The more cooperative and confident you are, the more relaxed your dog will be. If you’re asked to assist in restraining the animal, then do your part. It could be that your touch is needed as a calming influence. If you’re asked to sit down… SIT DOWN. Be the best Mom or Dad that you can be by following directions and helping in whatever way the staff needs.

  • Familiar is Soothing

    As we’ve mentioned before, be prepared to provide scent items, like clothing or toys from home, that will help to keep you connected to your pet. If they have a favorite toy, bring it along. We promise you that your dog will recognize and find comfort in having it, regardless if they can or want to play. Humans take personal times to the office as a source of comfort, you pack things that are soothing to you in a suitcase, your car becomes a personalized space as well… why would your pet not feel that some connection to his personal stuff?

    Having those personal items can also help the clinic staff to connect with your dog. By the staff holding their stuff, then presenting the items to the pet, the animal starts to associate good things connected to their personals and the new people.

  • Don’t be a Super Freak

    You’re going to watch things that you’ll hate. Your dog will likely have temperature reading, they will be prodded and poked, there could even be shots and pills. If this happens, control your urges and try not to get upset. Calm is cool in these situations, as your fur buddy will pick up on your emotions. If parents are okay with what’s happening, then it must be okay. Speak in soothing tones and apply your soft touch, when appropriate. If you’re chill, then the cool will rub off on your pet.

  • Watch and Learn

    Things are often happening fast at the vet’s office. You’ll see a lot of faces, be front row for many of their processes, watch the interactions of the staff and doctors through the entire visit. Did they meet your standards? How did your fur baby react to the people they met? Were you comfortable with everything and everyone you saw? What could have been better?

    Remember, this is not the only show in town. You have the right and ability to change providers at any time. Familiarity to your pet and their health conditions are a good thing, but they are not the ONLY thing. Make sure your fur asset is in the best possible place and situation for their well being and healthcare. If you aren’t happy, or they are not comfortable, maybe you need to look elsewhere.

    Having an honest after visit assessment should be a part of your post-visit routine.

    Consider the staff, how they interacted with your dog, if the dog warmed up to them, if they took a personal interest and approach to treatment, and if you felt the place was clean and the price fair for the service rendered. Let the answers be your guide on their overall performance and if they earned your future visits.

Your pet is unique and only has one life to live. It’s your job as guardian and parent, to assure the medical team you’re entrusting with their health and wellness is meeting your needs. If not, explore your options. Talk to friends, read online reviews, get to know the providers in your area and MAKE A CHANGE.


When you read the reviews for Freddie’s Place you’ll see that we are different by design. Words like “caring”, “compassionate”, “patient first”, “fair pricing”, “they made us feel special” are associated with Our Place, for a reason… we strive to provide 5-Star care to everyone who entrusts us with their most precious asset, their pet. For us, it’s about the patient, not the profits. Our staff is made up of professionals who are also fur family parents. So the entire process, from triage-to-post treatment follow-up, is personal to all of us. We treat you like we would treat our own family… because once you’ve chosen Our Place, you are family.

At Freddie’s Place you’re not just a number, or a tic mark on our bottom line, we treat the individual pet and their needs. Our staff is on a singular mission to change the face of pet healthcare in San Diego County. We understand the industry trend of impersonal, chain, conglomerate locations that focus on cookie cutter solutions in their cookie cutter locations. Experts in bedside manner and soft skills are on the decline as corporations create manufactured treatment solutions and watch their bottom lines swell.

Freddie’s Place has a modern location, state-of-the-art equipment, a comfortable and welcoming waiting area, an onsite lab and pharmacy, low “Freddie Friendly” pricing, and the “Best Care Anywhere” staff focusing on the patient. It’s a mix of old-fashioned, compassionate care and cutting edge technology that makes us special. At the center of everything we do is Freddie, the little therapy dog with the giant heart and gentle soul. His spirit lives in the hospital we operate and the care we provide.

Come meet our staff and find out why so many fur families are making Freddie’s Place, Their Place. You’ll find we are UNLEASHING a change in the pet healthcare industry, and the fur families who have found us agree. Let us help you in Keeping the Ball Rolling towards a better health solution for your pets. #FreddieSez, a positive experience and your satisfaction is our Mission and Vision.

We hope this blog provided you new information, tips and tricks, and a road map to a better veterinary visit for your dog. The vet doesn’t have to be scary for anyone if you manage the situation and use each visit as a learning experience to improve the next one. The right people, at the right place, providing patient focused care, delivered with compassion, using the right tools, makes that clinic the RIGHT PLACE for you. Don’t ever settle for less, your dogs well being and life depend on it.

That’s it for this week’s edition of #FreddieSez. Let us know what YOU think about your vet, your best and worse experiences, and your thoughts on the industry in general. Until next week, remember there is an entire library of Dog Blogs available for you to explore on our web home. Until we meet again, be safe, healthy, happy and pet friendly!