How to be a responsible dog owner at the vet, according to an expert

Family petting dog while vet examines him
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether your dog is not eating and you're concerned they might be unwell or they're simply in need of their annual vaccinations, there are many reasons why your canine companion may need to visit a vet.

While some pups stride into the vet's lobby without a care in the world, anxiety in dogs is fairly common and it can make those trips stressful for both you and your fur friend.

However, regardless of whether you have a confident canine or a more nervous dog on your hands, expert trainer Carolyn, the founder of Good Dog Training, says it's important that both dog owners and their beloved bundles of fluff know how to behave when they're at the vet.

Keep reading as Carolyn explains six things you can do to be a more responsible dog owner when your pup is in need of medical attention...

1. Keep your dog on a short leash: "They don't need to wander the lobby visiting people or pets," Carolyn explains. "Leave the retractable leash at home."

2. Ask before you touch someone's pet: "The vet lobby isn't a petting zoo," says Carolyn. "Likewise, don't allow children to wander the lobby. The pets waiting may not like kids and they're already stressed."

3. Be mindful of cats: "Stop letting your dog 'say hi' to the kitties in the crate. That caged cat does not like your dog."

4. Don't allow your dog to approach other dogs: "It's a dog fight waiting to happen," explains Carolyn. "Also, the vet is where sick, contagious, and stressed animals go. Give them space."

5. Consider bringing your dog in only when it's time for their apppointment: "If your dog is aggressive, reactive, or terrified, leave them in the car while you check in," Carolyn advises. "If it's too hot, call from the car and check in via phone. You don't have to sit in a busy lobby for 20 minutes while your dog is freaking out."

6. Your dog, your mess: "Potty your dog before entering, but if they have an accident, clean it up or at least let staff know before your sick dog's bodily fluids get tracked all over the lobby."

Carolyn says that it's super important as dog owners that we're always respectful of staff, other people, and other animals whenever we take our pet to the vet.

"You might just be there with your friendly dog to get vaccines. Someone else may be there with a very painful or very sick dog who isn’t feeling friendly. People may be there to receive bad news or for a euthanasia, and they don’t need your dog in their face."

Being mindful of the above points when you next visit the vet will ensure you're doing everything you can to be a responsible dog owner. 

And if your dog detests visiting the vet, check out 'My dog hated going to the vet until I tried these tips' where an expert weighs in on how you can make those essential medical trips easier for your canine companion. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.