How to keep anxiety levels down when visiting the Vet

Oooph we’ve had a tough week…  Poor old Ludo’s breathing has become steadily worse over the last few months and weeks triggering us to investigate BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airways Syndrome) surgery for him.  But things got dramatically worse four days ago when he was really struggling to breath at rest and so followed a few days of emergency vet visits, sedation to explore, then a visit to the specialist referral vet where he stayed over for a general anaesthetic, more tests and procedures.  

It turned out that he actually had a massive abscess on one of his tonsils.  No wonder he was so off colour!  The team at North Downs Referral Specialists have cleaned him up and he is so much more comfortable.  We will see how he goes and now we also have the scan results and information we need should we choose to go back for the BOAS surgery in a few weeks time.  Unfortunately, that is likely as the scans showed a few anatomical features consistent with BOAS.

Anyway, we are having a very quiet end to the week and he is recovering really well.  So while he catches up on some zzzs I thought I’d write a blog with some tips on how to keep a visit to the vets as low anxiety as possible!  

Our mindset 

This is really important!  Our dogs need us to be a calm, confident influence, not a gibbering wreck LOL  It is our responsibility to get into that headspace and stay there as long as we can.  My preference is for breathing exercises and a repeated mantra of “Worrying is distracting and serves no purpose. I stay in the moment and serve my dog”, and this really helps me maintain a healthy state of mind for me which helps Ludo.  I am human, however, and I have my wobbles!  But, I do refuse to wobble when my dog needs me to be calm and positive.  And at the end of the day, even if we don’t feel calm, we can at least BEHAVE calmly for the visits to the vets.

It is really worth knowing how your vets are currently managing with COVID requirements too so that it’s not a surprise that you can’t go in with your dog etc.  If you know in advance, it will be way less stressful.

Make a list

If you’re anything like me, you might forget that important question you wanted to ask when you had the prized few minutes with the vet!  A written list makes sense for me, usually in my phone so I don’t forget to bring it with me either (I am a bit forgetful!).  

I also make a note of the things the veterinary team might need to know should he have to stay the night… the foods he’s allergic to, the fact he gets hot overnight and has to be able to change sleeping positions.  For Kenny, I also used to write a note for nurses, reminding them he was deaf, so they could take care not to surprise him and scare him.  If you are allowed, take some of your dog’s food with you so they can feed him the same as you do.

On arrival

Think about whether you will be able to get your dog out of the car for a little wander as a toilet trip.  I find this really useful with a dog like Ludo who is very enthusiastic on first arrival!  I get there ahead of time, get him out of the car and let him suss the smells/noises/sights of the environment out, have a pee and then we can do some calming strategies like Stop Start Change Direction.  He is then calmer when he then meets the vet and is led away from me and into their practice.

Pick up 

Think about whether you need to prepare the car any differently to normal.  On Monday when I picked Ludo up following a sedation, I picked him up on my own, he was quite zonked and I needed my husband to lift him out of the boot when we got home.  Chili was a bit freaked out by the zonked out Ludo and so I popped her on the slip lead so that I could give her guidance that everything was fine, there was nothing for her to do.  This led me to bring another bed in the car when all three of us went to pick him up late night Wednesday, really just in case Ludo was in a state where he needed the entire boot, or Chili was freaked out again!  We didn’t need it in the end, as we were allowed to wait for Ludo in the empty reception area with Chili.  I felt that was really helpful to them both and they were so sweet when they greeted each other.  Chili sniffed and checked him and was reassured that he wasn’t so zonked out this time, and Ludo just slotted back into our family unit immediately.  They travelled back home in the boot together.


As many of you already know, I’m not one for medications if there is a homeopathic or natural remedy.  However, I trust my vets and this issue requires antibiotics and Ludo will feel better with some painkillers too.  Problem is, however I tried to disguise them at the beginning of the week, he’d spit them out!  So my final tip from this week is to chop the meds as small as possible, even grind them into powder, then he can’t eat around them or spit them out.  It has worked for us so far!

Hope our experiences help for you should you need veterinary help.


With huge thanks to:

Sonya and team at Ziggy’s 

Rachael and team at The Forest Vet

Emma and team at North Downs Specialist Referrals


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