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vet care for fearful/aggressive dog
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dustnbones99 posted:
My 5 year old Husky mix is a very damaged shelter rescue. He has always been fine with me but is very aggressive and fearful of all other living things. I muzzle him when he needs to see a vet and the vets office has a record of his issues in his file. Usually his trips to the vet are fine .

We had a very bad experience on Saturday though. I took him to his regular vet because he was shaking his head and i feared he had an ear infection. I also wanted his nails cut. Usually i stay with him for treatment but this time the vet said he would be easier to handle without me there. They put their muzzle over the one he was already wearing and hauled him off to a back room. They were gone a long time and i was getting worried. Finally a vet tech came back to tell me they were having problems and needed me to put the muzzle back on him. I should have just taken him home at this point but i did as she asked. There was another long wait and then the Vet came back to tell me that he was bleeding and needed to be washed . What?

They had used a Rabies pole on him and he cut his tongue biting on it. He was soaking wet and covered in blood and feces. I've never seem him so upset and stressed out. The vet said 4 people tried to restrain h im and couldn't. He is not a very large dog, 88 pounds, and i think this was over kill. It seems to me that not having me there to help, and over
whelming him with too many people and the restraint pole made him even more fearful and aggressive.

I plan to find a new vet but need some tips on how to handle further visits. I don't want to ever put him through anything like that again.
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AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Bernadine Cruz, DVM responded:
I am so sorry to hear that your pet had such a fear filled experience. There are liability reasons why a veterinarian needs to remove a pet from an owner's presence when treatment is needed and there is a chance that the pet may become aggressive. If the pet accidentally bites the owner while the pet is under the veterinarian's care, the veterinarian can be held financially responsible.

You may want to try a few different approaches. Rather than have each trip to the vets be stressfilled, stop by the practice for a 'happy visit'. Have the staff offer a tasty treat to your dog and then leave. You may need to do this several times before the pet realizes that this place isn't that bad. You may want to ask your veterinarian for a sedative that you administer at home before going to the office. This can help to take the edge off. You can work with a board certified veterinary behaviorist and you can also try another veterinary practice or another veterinarian at the same practice. Sometimes a pet reacts better to one person than another. Keep working with your dog. It sounds as though you have a lot of love and patience.

Best of luck...
Dr. Bernadine Cruz


Featuring Experts from AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

Bernadine D. Cruz, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital, Laguna Hills, Calif. She specializes in companion animal medicin...More

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