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Advocating for Your Dog at the Vet’s Office

Advocates support a cause or a person that is not getting the representation or being heard as they should be. And aren’t our precious canine companions a ‘person’ to us?

Advocating for your dog means many things. Making sure they have the space they need, doing your research to find the best food, toys, care. Paws and Reflect has a whole Instagram guide series about being an advocate for your pet, I encourage you to check that out!

But where it may be sometimes lacking is at your veterinarian’s office. Most of us dog caregivers trust the vet to know what is best for our dog and we do not think to do research on the drugs a vet is prescribing or the procedures they are recommending.

When your dog walks into the vet’s office shaking and panting, and possible exhibiting aggressive behavior, we just slap a muzzle on them and let the techs handle it. Oh yes, I have been guilty of that too.

One of the top tenants of advocacy is protecting your pet from physical and emotional harm. If you have recently adopted pet, or one you have not had for long enough to discover all their quirks, you may not even know how your dog will react, to promote advocacy at the vet’s office. But being alert and closely observing your dog for signs of anxiety and stress can keep ‘accidents’ from happening and having your dog labeled as aggressive in their medical records.

Advocating for your pet at the veterinarian’s office is important because your pet relies on you to be their voice and ensure they receive the best care possible.

Here are some reasons why advocating for your pet at the veterinarian’s office is crucial:


Your pet can’t communicate their symptoms or how they’re feeling, so you need to provide the veterinarian with as much information as possible about your pet’s health history, behavior, and any changes you’ve noticed.


Veterinarians often have limited time with each patient, so it’s important to make sure they understand your pet’s needs and any concerns you have. If you have the ability to send a longer email ahead of time to ensure you get through everything you need to discuss, do so!


You need to give informed consent for any treatments or procedures your pet may undergo, so it’s important to ask questions and fully understand the options available and what outcomes each treatment, procedure, or test will provide. Are you in need of an MRI but it doesn’t change the course of treatment? Consider why putting your dog under would benefit the dog, etc.


You know your pet best, so you can advocate for their comfort and well-being during their veterinary visit, making sure they’re handled gently and with care. Be sure to share things like “my dog is headshy” if they have trouble be handled at the head for eyes, ears, mouth checks; or “please take blood from a back leg” if you know your dog has a harder time allowing a front leg blood draw.


After the visit, you’ll need to follow any instructions or medication schedules given by the veterinarian, so it’s important to understand these and ask for clarification if needed.

Finally, if possible, seek out a clinic that has training or been certified in Fear Free Behavior. This means that the doctors and techs in that office know how to gauge the fear and anxiety in your dog, know when sedation is necessary and understand the levels of fear your dog is exhibiting. They understand the correct way to perform venipuncture, which is the drawing of blood intravenously, including the alternative methods they may have to use if your dog is showing extreme discomfort with the handling.

By advocating for your pet at the veterinarian’s office, you can help ensure they receive the personalized
care they need to stay healthy and happy.

Feel free to share with other Great Dane Lovers!