Vet Phobia – Previous vet said could be useless. It is?

We have a two year old Aussie / Cattledog mix that is * terrified * of the vet. He hasn’t gotten aggressive (yet), but he gasps, shakes, screams, and sometimes urinates / defecates / expresses-anal-glands. About 18 months ago, we started using sedatives (trazadone and gabapentin) for vet visits. This seems to help you become more manageable, but you are definitely still panicking. This all came to a head the other day when I had to bring him in for an emergency visit (broken dew claw). I gave him his usual sedation, but he still managed to slip the harness on his way to the vet’s office and TAKE OFF. None of the work we put into training and memory mattered at all in this situation – I was too scared (not to mention drugs and pain) to even consider responding to commands. He was missing for several horrible and terrifying hours before we found him. *** I take full responsibility for letting it go loose and am taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. *** But I wonder if there is anything else we can do to address the vet phobia that triggered it. first. His first visit as an 8 week old puppy was great. She got peanut butter and didn’t even know it when she got an injection. Then he became more and more afraid. It started simply with being restrained from shooting: he screamed and squirmed. It just escalated from there. During all of this, we took him on “happy” visits at least once a month, but usually once a week. In fact, he loved them – he would go around having treats and was very excited to see all the staff. It was only the “real” visits to the vet that scared him. I tried / tried very hard to keep my demeanor consistent and project calm for any visit, but he knew as soon as the gloves came off that it was a “real” visitor. He started to freak out earlier and earlier, until he started shaking as soon as we got to the building. We had to stop making the “happy” visits once the pandemic started, which meant that every visit since then has been a negative experience. The vet prescribed sedatives after the first time he expressed his anal glands out of sheer terror. We talked to her a lot about other ways to work on it, but she warned us that she has never seen veterinary phobia improve to this level, only worse. We recently moved so we’ve only seen this new vet twice (once for a checkup, once for the dew claw), but the same behavior. For context, this is super isolated for the vet. He is usually a confident dog who loves people. I even tried recreating the vet’s cellar and stuff at home and never got anything but a sideways glance. Our new vet office said they are making happy / fun visits again so we can get started on them, but I’m not sure how / if to approach them. He starts shaking as soon as we hit the street and he’s too scared to grab treats so positive reinforcement is difficult / impossible. Has anyone dealt with this before? Does it make any sense to try to work on this? Or is it just that it subjects him to unnecessary terror? I am not looking for a miracle, I would even settle for avoiding any escalation.

We have a two year old Aussie / Cattledog mix that is * terrified * of the vet. He hasn’t gotten aggressive (yet), but he gasps, shakes, screams, and sometimes urinates / defecates / expresses-anal-glands. About 18 months ago, we started using sedatives (trazadone and gabapentin) for vet visits. This seems to help you become more manageable, but you are definitely still panicking. This all came to a head the other day when I had to bring him in for an emergency visit (broken dew claw). I gave him his usual sedation, but he still managed to slip the harness on his way to the vet’s office and TAKE OFF. None of the work we put into training and memory mattered at all in this situation – I was too scared (not to mention drugs and pain) to even consider responding to commands. He was missing for several horrible and terrifying hours before we found him. *** I take full responsibility for letting it go loose and am taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. *** But I wonder if there is anything else we can do to address the vet phobia that triggered it. first. His first visit as an 8 week old puppy was great. She got peanut butter and didn’t even know it when she got an injection. Then he became more and more afraid. It started simply with being restrained from shooting: he screamed and squirmed. It just escalated from there. During all of this, we took him on “happy” visits at least once a month, but usually once a week. In fact, he loved them – he would go around having treats and was very excited to see all the staff. It was only the “real” visits to the vet that scared him. I tried / tried very hard to keep my demeanor consistent and project calm for any visit, but he knew as soon as the gloves came off that it was a “real” visitor. He started to freak out earlier and earlier, until he started shaking as soon as we got to the building. We had to stop making the “happy” visits once the pandemic started, which meant that every visit since then has been a negative experience. The vet prescribed sedatives after the first time he expressed his anal glands out of sheer terror. We talked to her a lot about other ways to work on it, but she warned us that she has never seen veterinary phobia improve to this level, only worse. We recently moved so we’ve only seen this new vet twice (once for a checkup, once for the dew claw), but the same behavior. For context, this is super isolated for the vet. He is usually a confident dog who loves people. I even tried recreating the vet’s cellar and stuff at home and never got anything but a sideways glance. Our new vet office said they are making happy / fun visits again so we can get started on them, but I’m not sure how / if to approach them. He starts shaking as soon as we hit the street and he’s too scared to grab treats so positive reinforcement is difficult / impossible. Has anyone dealt with this before? Does it make any sense to try to work on this? Or is it just that it subjects him to unnecessary terror? I am not looking for a miracle, I would even settle for avoiding any escalation.

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