Canine “Chill Protocol”
Many dogs experience a significant amount of anxiety with veterinary visits and exposure to other people and animals. Signs of fear can include excessive drooling and cowering, however fear can also manifest as aggression with growling and lunging. Each scary trip to the vet makes the next time even more stressful. Also, fear-induced aggression is dangerous for both your dog and for the people handling it.
A safe, more pleasant visit to the hospital starts at home!
1) Early socialization and fun trips make a huge difference in how dogs see the world later in life. While you don’t always have control of your dog’s puppyhood experiences, you can still work on positive experiences outside of the house. If your dog is particularly fearful or aggressive, make sure to work with a dog behaviorist or trainer focused on positive reinforcement.
2) Make sure the car is a comfortable temperature with no loud music, and secure your dog in a carrier that won’t be able to tip or slide around in the car.
3) If your dog does show signs of fear-induced aggression, consider purchasing a well-fitted basket muzzle. Basket muzzles don’t restrict the movement of a dog’s mouth, so they are more comfortable and much less scary than restrictive cloth muzzles. You can train your dog to accept the muzzle with delicious treats and other positive reinforcement at home.
4) Call to discuss your concerns about anxiety prior to your appointment. Your vet may choose to schedule appointments during a quiet time of day or find a way to keep your dog separated from others. Sedation and anti-anxiety medication may be the safest option for necessary vet visits.
In young, healthy pets with a history of anxiety, we may choose to prescribe sedation for a safer, less stressful surgery visit. The following medications are commonly used:
1) Gabapentin minimizes the stress your pet experiences, decreases the amount of anesthetics needed for a safer surgery, and provides some pain management.
2) Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone with calming effects.
3) Acepromazine is a sedative which may also improve the function of the other medications your pet is receiving (calming and anesthetic drugs).
This protocol is effective for 4-6 hours, and the timing of medication administration is crucial!
7pm (the night BEFORE the procedure)
Give gabapentin by mouth as directed. ____________________________________________
6am (the morning OF the procedure)
Give gabapentin by mouth as previously directed.
Give melatonin by mouth as directed. _____________________________________________
Give acepromazine liquid by squirting contents of the syringe directly into your dog’s mouth for absorption through the mucous membranes.
Remember that this will likely make your dog groggy- don’t let them stumble down stairs or jump in and out of vehicles while medicated!
We look forward to a calm, stress-free visit with your pet!