Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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