Many dogs experience some stress when visiting the vet. Here's this person, who they don't know (or don't know well), who wants to restrain them in order to poke and prod at them. And this is often during a time when the dog isn't feeling his best! It's no wonder that a trip to the vet can cause some dogs to worry. Here are a few tips to help make things easier if your dog is anxious about going to the vet.
If car trips typically end up at the vet's office, dogs may start getting anxious as soon as they're asked to get into the car. Keep him safe and as calm as you can for the trip:
Pets are adept at picking up on how their owners feel. If you're feeling worried about the taking your dog to the vet, he's going to feel it too. Don't anxiously coddle your dog or nervously pat or talk to him. Overly-coddling your dog may make him think that there actually IS something to worry about.
Work on staying calm. Be cheerful, talk in your regular voice and treat the vet visit as a normal thing instead of something to fear.
One of my dogs, while not timid nor anxious, was wary of people due to a lack of positive experiences in his life prior to entering the rescue system. A number of pet owners recommended one specific vet, so we took him to meet her. It was a massive flop - our dog wasn't a fan; he was clearly uneasy with her fast movements and the way she wanted to handle him before he had a chance to get comfortable around her.
So we took him to a second vet. This vet didn't touch him, talk to him, or even try to get close to him for many minutes. When he finally did, he moved slowly, let my dog check him out before gently reaching out to touch him - just gently touch him, not start an examination. My dog stood quietly and calmly when the vet went to examine him. This vet was obviously a better match for us.
Dogs respond better to some people than to others. They can benefit from a 'meet and greet' with a potential vet. Bring your dog to meet the vet, and explain to the vet that your dog is scared or anxious. Vets see a lot of this, and many are very skilled in dealing with pets who are afraid. See how the vet interacts with your dog. Watch how your dog responds. If it's not a good match, then try again with another vet.
(P.S. Bring some treats! For food-motivated pups, tasty treats can help make a vet visit a positive experience. Choose something extra-yummy, something that's specially reserved for the vet - roasted chicken is a good choice, cheese is popular, or perhaps bring a cheeseburger.)
Waiting rooms often have other people and their pets waiting for their appointments. It can be unpredictable; friendly dogs, barky dogs, sweet kitties and hissing, upset kitties ... sounds of howling, whining, or barking dogs in the back of the clinic ... the unfamiliar sights and strange noises can increase anxiety for some dogs. Anxious dogs may be better off avoiding the waiting room.
It's tempting to schedule a list of stuff to check at the vet's, and try to get it all done in one visit. Who wants to take multiple trips to the vet, after all? For anxious pups, though, it may be too much for them to handle.
Of course, this doesn't mean that your dog will be happy to have the vet doing the same things ... but at least it will be easier on your dog, having had the same type of handling done at home.