How to help your dog cope better with vet visits?

  1. Help your dog feel calmer during the visit with ThunderShirt

    • ThunderShirt is a calming jacket that helps dogs feel calm by applying a gentle constant pressure around your dog’s torso.
    • Simply put the ThunderShirt on your pet at home before heading out to the vet.
    • 1,000,000+ dogs have already been helped – yours could be too during their next healthcare appointment!
  2. Training at home

    • Get your pup used to being handled so this is not such a strange experience when they are examined at the clinic. This includes their paws, ears, inspecting their teeth and skin.
    • Reward your dog when they remain calm when you approach each area and build up to touching, holding and moving different parts of their body. Start with areas you know they are happy for you to touch already, such as their chest.
  3. Build up positive experiences

    • Pop into the veterinary clinic beforehand, so your dog can get used to the clinic sights, sounds, smells and people when nothing bad happens. Most clinics will also have treats on hand to greet your dog!
    • Building up a bank of positive experiences at the veterinary clinic reduces the severity of a negative visit, so take your dog with you when you go in to pick up preventative healthcare products and food too.
  4. Get set up for success!

    • Try to be upbeat as you speak to your dog, remain relaxed and don’t make a big deal about the trip (even though you might be worried yourself).
    • If the waiting room is busy or your dog finds waiting there difficult, let the clinic know where you’ll be waiting outside.
    • Bring something familiar from home to comfort your dog. This could be a blanket, toy and, of course, treats!

We recommend:

To wrap around your dog's body to calm them during vet visits


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Tips to make vet visits less stressful

The veterinary clinic is an important place for your dog’s health, but just like many people dread going to the doctor, the clinic can be a major source of anxiety for our dogs. For some, the anxiety can start with the car ride, and continue even after the vet visit is long over. Many owners have reported that they’ve stopped taking their dog to the vet unless it is a real emergency because of the stress it causes to their beloved fur-baby.

Vet visits don’t have to be something you and your dog fear – our top tips will help you plan for a comfortable visit.

Prepare for the visit

Stop off at your vet clinic with your at times other than when your dog needs to see a veterinary professional. This could be when you are picking up their food, their parasiticide medication or just to say hello to the staff. The veterinary team love to welcome healthy happy dogs and usually will have a treat or 2 for your dog, building up the positive experiences your dog has at the clinic.

Train your dog to get used to all of their body being handled, as they would for an examination. Help them to be comfortable with their paws being lifted and touched, their mouth being opened etc. Gradually introduce routine handling using positive reward based training techniques. Happy Dog Expert Ángela González explains why positive training techniques should be used. Contact your local accredited dog trainer for advice.

Ask the staff to book you an appointment when the clinic is quieter, or maybe at the start of a consulting time for a shorter wait. Check if you can wait in the car before the appointment if this is easier than being in the waiting room for your dog.

The journey to the clinic

Place ThunderShirt on your dog before you are getting ready to leave when your dog is happy and relaxed. Our top training tips for car travel will help with ways to help your dog feel comfortable in the car.

Hold off from giving your dog their regular meal before car travel to reduce the risk of car sickness. This also helps your dog be ready to accept treats when you are in the clinic!

How can ThunderShirt help my dog with vet visits?

Many dog parents have reported that their dog seems much more at ease when wearing their ThunderShirt. It's gentle pressure helps calm dogs, like swaddling soothes a baby.

What else should I bring on the day?

Our vet's suggestion: Your dog will appreciate some familiar items from home. Treats are a great way to distract your dog during the visit (especially if the treats are one of their favourites). For dogs that are too worried to eat a treat, their favourite toy could be a good option. Bring one of your dog's blankets with you into the clinic too, as then your dog has something familiar to rest on.

For younger dogs and puppies, read more tips in our taking your puppy to the vet article.

Lots of vet clinics also use ADAPTIL Calm Diffusers in different areas of the clinic, or spray blankets with ADAPTIL Transport for dogs to use. ADAPTIL has been clinically proven to reduce canine anxiety in veterinary clinics*. 

Keep calm!

This last tip is for you - try and keep calm yourself, even though you may be feeling nervous about the visit. Your dog is in tune with how you're feeling and minimising your stress can help your dog feel less anxious.

* Mills et al (2006) AABS 98: 114-126