Category Archives: vet

Etiquette at the Vets

By Julia Williams

If we are lucky, our mothers teach us all about good manners when we’re young. Hopefully, as adults we have a pretty good idea of what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Sometimes we slip up, not because we want to be discourteous, but more often because we just weren’t thinking. Then again, we don’t always know what’s expected of us in certain situations. That’s why I decided to write these tips on what to do – and what not to do – in your vet’s waiting room.

Contain your cat!

One of the biggest blunders pet owners make, in my opinion, is bringing their cat into a vet’s waiting room without a carrier. I see this nearly every time I take one of my cats in. You may think you have a really calm feline who isn’t afraid of anything, and they will just sit blithely on your lap until it’s your turn to be seen by the vet. That may well be true. But do you realize what could happen when a cat-aggressive dog comes out of the exam room or through the front door, and charges straight for your beloved kitty? At best, you’ll create chaos as you try to catch your frightened cat that just ran for cover. At worst, your cat will dart out the open door never to be seen again. Responsible pet owners contain their cats in carriers because it’s infinitely safer for the cat, and much less stressful to boot.

Don’t give dogs free rein

While in the veterinary waiting room, you should keep your dog close to you and under control at all times. If you can’t, then you should ask the receptionist if there’s a better place to wait, or take your dog outside until he’s ready to be seen by the vet. Also, use a regular leash instead of the retractable kind, so you’ll have better control over your dog’s movement. If you’re bringing in multiple dogs, make sure you can handle them and if not, have another adult come with you.


Don’t pet other people’s dogs unless you ask them first. This is a rule you should follow no matter where you are, but especially at the vets. Even normally friendly animals may react aggressively in this strange and stressful environment. And please don’t let your dog approach other people unless they tell you they want them to. Some people are afraid of dogs, and some just plain don’t like them. As hard as that might be for dog owners to believe, it’s true. I like dogs myself, but I don’t like being jumped on, licked or sniffed in private places.

Socialize at the dog park, not the vets

The veterinary waiting room is not the place to let your dog do the “meet and greet” with other dogs. No matter how well you think you know your dog, this unfamiliar environment could cause them to act unpredictably. Moreover, you have no idea how other dogs will react, and you could find yourself needing to break up a dog fight. Incidentally, it’s always a good idea to know ahead of time how to break up dog fights – read this article to get some great tips.

Don’t feed other people’s pets

Many vets keep a container of dog treats at the front desk for their clients to give to their pet. This doesn’t mean you should feel free to take one and give it to someone else’s dog, no matter how well intentioned you might be. You have no idea if a stranger’s pet has dietary issues, and giving them treats could actually cause them harm.

Leave the kids at home

A busy animal hospital is no place for children. You’ll have your hands full trying to control your dog or carry your cat. Who needs the added stress of trying to keep children from petting other people’s dogs or running amok in the waiting room? Plus, having kids in tow will make it more difficult to attend to your pet’s needs in the exam room and communicate with your vet about your pet’s problem or treatment.

Respect other people’s privacy

Most doctors’ offices have signs asking you to wait behind a certain line before approaching the front desk. This is to give the other patients some privacy as they pay their bills or discuss medications and treatments. Vet clinics don’t usually have similar signs; however, veterinary clients are entitled to the same privacy considerations. If there are other people at the front desk, give them some room to conduct their business privately.

Vet visits may not be one of your “favorite things,” but they are a necessary part of responsible pet ownership. Observing a few simple etiquette rules while you’re there can help your vet visit go a lot smoother, for all concerned.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Do Dogs Understand Time?

By Lexiann Grant

Humans often dwell on the past and worry about the future. We envy dogs their ability to live in the moment, unfettered by their past, unconcerned about tomorrow. Although our perception of what dogs think about “living in the moment” may seem anthropomorphic, there’s a sound basis for the idea.

A dog probably doesn’t reflect, “what a bad day I’ve had” after visiting the vet. They focus on what they’re doing “now.” A dog in a threatening situation wouldn’t survive long if he were thinking instead about what toy to chew next. Marc Bekoff, PhD, an animal behavior professor at the University of Colorado, thinks dogs live in the moment. “When they’re actively engaged it’s hard to distract them. They’re attentive, mindful. And mindful means being in the present.”

But dogs use past experience to plan for the future. A dog who becomes agitated when he sees the vet hospital is basing his behavior on his previous painful or frightening experience there.

“When a dog experiences anxiety, it’s because of that moment. When they’re repeatedly exposed to the same situation, like aversion to the vet’s, there’s no reason to believe they’re not thinking about what’s coming,” Bekoff said. “They’re able to combine what’s happening now with what they think will happen.”

By considering a dog’s ability to react to the present, then plan immediate, future behavior based on the past, that implies dogs have a concept of time. Their concept isn’t the same as humans, but the dogs who live with us, have a sense of time and are tuned into our schedules.

This affects the way they make decisions. Dogs look for options. Different behaviors lead to different outcomes: which will be most satisfactory? Past experience, human schedules, conditioning and individual preferences all relate. Bekoff believes dogs are adaptable and intelligent, with much of their behavior based not on instinct, but on thought.

If dogs reason this way, are they also self-aware? The educational trend is moving away from strict behaviorism to careful cognitivism. New research aims to discover what animals might understand about themselves because not all animal behavior can easily be explained by instinct.

The idea of “self” in humans has broad meaning, but it’s unknown if dogs think this way or not. “There’s no evidence that dogs need to know who they are in order to function as humans do,” Bekoff said, “but animals appear to have a sense of ‘my body, my tail, not yours — mine-ness’.”

Owners, particularly those with multiple dogs, tend to believe their dog knows “their” crate, toy, food or name: who they are. And people like to know their dogs have emotion. But Ellen Lindell, VMD, and board certified veterinary behaviorist advises not focusing too much on the emotional part, “Maybe it’s simpler than that.”

Bottom line: enjoy the moment — now — with your dog.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.