K9 Corner, July 11

BY HELEN PALMER

So you have just acquired a new pet and are making an appointment with the veterinarian for the animal’s first physical exam. Has the breeder worked with the pup to make sure it is prepared for this ordeal or will you have to do the job?

Here are some ideas for preparing your dog for this new experience. First teach the dog to enter and relax in a dog crate so you can transport him easily. The crate can become his own private indoor bedroom when you are not traveling with him.

Some owners take their new dog on an introductory trip before the appointment. Early morning the staff is usually available to greet your pet and the experience is pleasant. It is even better in the dog’s eyes if you remember a few treats to hand out to the staff as a reward for your dog’s friendliness.

At home, teach your dog to stand still while you touch your finger to his ear. That is the newest method for taking temperature and it only takes seconds for the instrument to register so you don’t have to keep your finger there. Getting your dog to understand that you want him to be standing still will be your challenge.  The veterinarian will also need to check the ear canal with an otoscope so preparing the dog to have his ears examined will speed the procedure.

  Another bit of training that might help is placing a drop of artificial tears into each eye. This only teaches the dog to accept having a sterile liquid dropped into its eyes, but it prepares the dog for the doctor dilating his eyes. If you think your dog will need a test for glaucoma which involves a little pressure, practice massaging your dog’s face, gently touching around the eye. The dog will need to keep his head up while you massage, but you can make it fun by including the ears and the neck in your session.

The veterinarian will want to check the teeth and gums so practice pulling the lips back and briefly opening the mouth. This can also be part of the massage session and your dog will think opening the mouth is wonderful if you pop a tiny treat in before releasing the jaws. If you want a DNA sample, this mouth handling exercise prepares the dog for the necessary swab.

 Preparing the dog for blood work is a bit more difficult. If your animal has long hair, the doctor may wet the fur in order to find the vein. Practice wetting the leg at home and follow by giving the area a quick pinch with your fingers to simulate the prick of the needle. Remember to praise.

Finally, don’t forget to put two or three treats in your pocket to hand to the doctor after the exam is complete. That way your pet leaves with a pleasant taste in its mouth and pleasant thoughts about the experience.