Vet crisis

Not sure what can be done about the fact that my little puppy is biting vet techs to the point where she cannot be treated. I've been to 2 vets now; first for puppy "wellness" and fecal test (they wouldn't do a fecal without seeing her). The second, different vet, to check her ears because bad smell coming from them and rash-like appearance. I had to wait in my car for both because of covid. Reports from both vets is "they cannot treat her because she is trying to bite the vet tech holding her". Both vets say I would need to drug her. This is disconcerting to me, to say the least. I can't even imagine what's going on in there but I'm sure it's accurate. Any thoughts? I don't like the idea that I have a dog that seriously wants to bite people and want to work with this.

last edited by Beth314

First thing is to have a look in her mouth. Is she teething, are the gums sore ? Then I would get the vet to define 'biting' - i.e. showing aggression or just puppy-nipping ?

Does she nip or bite you and other people she meets ? Or is it only the veterinary assistants ? In which case, how are they handling her they they shouldn't ?

We have to wait in the car too and it terrified me at first but my vets and the technicians are so used to Basenjis we have never had them go other than willingly.

I think you need to find out more about what she is doing and why she is doing it.

I would have liked a video conference. Some vets are doing that. She will bite at hands trying to pet her - only twice because I won't allow that to happen now. The story was the same at both vet offices and they don't know one another so they weren't sharing stories, not that they have time for that anyway. Both said "can't examine because she can't be restrained without biting". I doubt it was puppy biting. One vet spent time with her, went slowly, tried treats that she wouldn't eat, and still said "medicate" next time for her own good to reduce fear aggression. I don't know what they use for drugs but my understanding of acepromazine is that the dog appears relaxed but they are not. Bottom line for me is no more vet visits until I can get in there with her.

@beth314 Its like the habit here of medicating old people in Homes. That should not be allowed. And I would be very unhappy at the idea of medicating a young dog unnecessarily - and just to examine her. Let's hope you are allowed in very soon.

@beth314 said in Vet crisis:

"they cannot treat her because she is trying to bite the vet tech holding her".

I have never visited a Veterinarian's office where the employees were not trained in how to hold a dog to prevent injury to themselves and the pet. It just seems absurd! I agree with @Zande, you need to see, firsthand:

@zande said in Vet crisis:

what she is doing and why she is doing it.

Otherwise you will never be able to properly assess the situation.

@beth314 said in Vet crisis:

Both vets say I would need to drug her.

Really? Have the vets never heard of muzzles? Not the preferred thing, but better than drugs, IMO. Really too bad that because of Covid she can't have you, who she trusts, do the holding.

@beth314 - I would demand a video or a zoom exam so you can see exactly what is going on... without "proof" you have nothing to go on. While many Vet offices are opening to letting owners in with their pets there are also many now that offer zoom exams...

@beth314 - You write that she has will bite hands trying to pet her? What is happening that she is doing this? Vet visit is important especially since you indicated that there are issues with her ears? And if her ears are inflamed that would lead to her not wanting anyone to touch them? Did you ever say where you got her? Breeder? Was she well socialized when you got her? You have to take all these things into consideration.

@tanza The head petting bit that humans do to dogs ... she, like most dogs, does not appreciate it but she let it be known in no uncertain terms (most dogs tolerate it). I will try to desensitize her to this but she tolerates it from me. Mostly I will make sure people don't go up to her and slam their human paws on top of my dog's head. Much easier with covid ... not too many people are coming up to strangers right now.

The ear recommendation was simply to clean them with cleaner that contains a drying agent. The vet was not able to scope her ears though. I think she's probably fine.

I think her socialization was pretty good, actually. She remained with the sire/dam and littermates until 12 weeks old. There was construction in the home and yard guys. She's oblivious to loud noises which is really nice. But I seriously doubt the family did much body handling work. I started on that immediately and she's great with me.

@beth314 You might try telling people to pet/approach her from underneath, not on top of her head. A friend who has a Cairn Terrier explained to me that I needed to approach him from under his head if I wanted to pet him. Apparently, as explained to me, terriers have a thing about being patted on the head. My current Basenji (got him at age 6.5, a retired champion) needs to be approached from underneath or from the side. He backs up if someone tries to pat his head.

U could also try vets till you get a good one , our first vet was a young vet and was very afraid of my 5 month old. Which instilled fear in him. My currant vet is older and very good with him and won't even let me handle him while I am there, he has bit at his vet techs a few times but vet always says he has dealt with a lot worse. He says if I get bit while in the exam room I could file a law suite against them.

@beth314 Here are a couple of things you might try:
Seek a vet who will do an outside visit. I have one local low cost clinic who does that for the difficult dogs.
Train your pup to wear an Elizabethan collar at home. I’ve used a very oversized one for one foster b with a previously very bad handling history (covid has not allowed me to do my usual rehab with him - going in to vet visits with dogs he knows without being handled - just a ride-along). It is so large that his nose does not stick out the end. In the inside of the cone, I spread peanut butter which he loved. Obviously, he could still bite, but the huge cone allowed him to be restrained gently from the side while examined. He growled a little, but did not attempt to bite even when he was stuck for his rabies vaccine. If she gets used to this at home, she can wear the oversized collar for the vet visit and feel less threatened than she might with a muzzle. Close-up checking of ears and eyes may have to wait, but at least vet visits might be a little more positive. An Adaptil collar may help to sooth her as well.
To ‘train’ for a vet visit, maybe you have a willing friend or family you can visit with her who can pretend to be a vet or vet tech. Go slow. Choose a kitchen or ‘sterile’ spot in the home that might be similar to a sterile exam room. At first, just have your friend ask her to sit and give her a treat reward. No touching until she seems comfortable. When she’s comfortable there, you perhaps could meet with family or friend at a pet store, going through the same slow get to know you process.
I hope you can find a vet with the right body language!

@senjisilly said in Vet crisis:

You might try telling people to pet/approach her from underneath, not on top of her head.

Most dog savvy people (and I should think that would include vets!) know that many dogs do not want strangers to put their hands behind their eyes. If a dog is at all wary of strangers it will not be comfortable with hands going where they can't see them. It's not just a terrier thing. Of course, a vet is going to have to handle the dog but setting the right tone at the beginning is important, and the current situation definitely requires some finesse. Taking the dog from the owner is stressful and doesn't start things off in a relaxed manner!

What is difficult is that dogs learn after a visit or two that vets often do things that are scary or that hurt, so it can be hard to instill trust in the dog. Most accept handling but some will not, especially dogs that are a bit fearful at the best of times. If the owner is confident they are the best person to handle the dog. Anyone who is apprehensive will transmit that and make the dog more likely to bite.

last edited by eeeefarm

@eeeefarm I know that following how these conversations thread isn't easy but the comment I responded to was not about the vet visit, of which I have nothing helpful to add, but about @Beth314 's comment to @tanza regarding her pup's reaction to people trying to pet her head. I don't believe @Beth314 was talking about dog savvy people in the comment I responded to. Next time I respond within a post it will be with a copy of what I am responding to so as to not create confusion.

I thought this was why God invented muzzles. I suspect when you can go into the vet office this will resolve itself.

@eeeefarm
I was thinking the same exact thing! Even groomers sometimes use a little, lightweight muzzle. It's just for a few minutes and doesn't hurt.

@senjisilly, yes, I know the comment was more general.

RE: muzzles, yes, a better choice than a chemical solution unless the dog is hysterical. Another point that I think is important....it is good to teach your pup or dog to quietly accept restraint. IMO, it is always a mistake to release a pup that is struggling, it sends the wrong message. If you pick a pup up or hold it, do not release it until it is quiet, otherwise you are reinforcing the instinct to fight to get free. The lesson is always that fighting is not productive, but cooperation will get you what you want. Makes it much easier if you need to restrain the dog for treatment.

My 11 month old went into the vet alone last month and did not consent to being examined. The vet said she was "a bit snappy" and that they tried to muzzle her, but that she wouldn't accept that either, so they used a rolled up towel around her neck, which they said calmed her and prevented her from biting..She didn't seem concerned about her snapping and appreciated that she didn't know them and was alone.

I had to take her again today (to a different branch) and due to that memory she was very reluctant to go in, but thankfully due to Covid restrictions being lifted here in the UK I was allowed in with her. The vet asked me to put one hand under her chin/jaw and to hold her collar with the other while she was examined. There was a small growl when the thermometer went into her back passage (can't blame her!) but me gently restraining her in that way whilst giving lots of verbal praise worked really well.

She also doesn't like strangers approaching her overhead, so I ask people to hold their hand out and let her approach them before scratching her under the chin, pointing out her hackles and that she is nervous. This approach has allowed her to say hello to multiple people, which she really enjoys.

It might be worth shopping around for a different vet who is more patient and willing to think creatively to help your dog tolerate bring examined. Also hopefully it won't be long before you are able to go in with her.

last edited by JKent

My boy from day one has been skeptical of vets. (I have a vet who also cares for my horse so in the scheme of things dogs are not as dangerous to her which is helpful) but from the first time in we put a muzzle on him just in case -he even looked to me like he was thinking about it so I totally agreed. He has never actually tried to bite (I think he knows he can't with a muzzle on) but because of his eyeing us, we continue to use it just in case. He knows the routine, and is definitely better when I'm holding him myself but its not worth taking a chance on anyone's safety and its been fine. I agree that a good vet office should know how to handle untrusting dogs. With a young dog I would definitely want to be with them to make them as comfortable as possible and establish good experiences, especially if there have already been bad ones so I would look for a vet willing to work with you and let you be present, if they are not willing, they are not worth it...

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