Whole Dog Journal's Blog March 24, 2014

Don’t take my dog “in the back” without me

Posted at 02:12PM - Comments: (38)

I’ve written previously about my aversion to letting veterinary technicians take my dogs “in the back” for blood draws and other quick procedures. My main reason for not wanting to send Otto in the back is that he has an irrational fear of slippery floors. As soon as he thinks a floor is slippery – it doesn’t even seem to matter whether I find the floor to be slippery or not – he starts to walk like Bambi on a frozen pond, scrambling in such as way as to ensure that he will fall.

He’s actually made a LOT of progress, largely because I’ve never dragged or forced him across a floor that freaked him out (contrary to LOTS of advice from the kind of trainers I don’t listen to). He may quail for a moment at the entrance to a pet supply store, when he steps off the entry carpet and finds himself on a sea of tile, but then he will gather himself and walk cautiously along with me. His turns will be wide and wobbly, and he will pant a bit with the effort of staying upright, but he’s game, he’ll go. That’s hard-won progress – and admittedly, I don’t put him through it a lot, or for no good reason. Any time we have to navigate a super slippery place, I make it as rewarding – and brief – as possible for him.

Veterinary clinics almost always have tile or other hard, smooth floors – they are the easiest to keep clean. But they present a challenge to Otto, and knowing this, I protect him as best I can by telling the techs, as they lead us to exam rooms, “I need to let him go slow and pick his own path; he’s really cautious on slippery floors.” And – usually -- I don’t allow them to “take him in the back,” because they don’t know this behavior as well as I do, and I don’t want him to backslide. If he gets scared and puts the brakes on for a second, I can encourage him with a word and he will start walking again. At clinics, they will almost always respond to a dog locking up by just dragging the dog – gently, but dragging nonetheless! – through the door into the back. Most dogs are afraid to leave their owners and are fine (if not better behaved) once the door between the “back” and their owner is closed. Otto is happy to go with the techs, he likes them! Inconvenient though it may be, it’s really all about the FLOOR.

My son was visiting over the weekend. He was delivering his young dog, Cole, to me to dog-sit while he and his girlfriend take a short vacation (spring break). We took both of our dogs to the vet on Sunday. Eight-or-so-month-old Cole needed to be weighed again (he’s growing like a weed) to make sure we are giving him the right amount of heartworm preventive, and to receive said preventive; and he received his first rabies vaccination. (It was given later than usual, as we have been sorting out his immune response to his other vaccines.) Otto needed his annual examination to renew his prescription for heartworm preventive. I also wanted the clinic to take a blood sample to send off for his annual vaccine titer test. (He hasn’t been vaccinated for anything but rabies since I adopted him in 2008; his titers come back strong and positive every year.)

As usual, Otto hesitated at the door of the clinic, and then walked into the waiting room carefully. He happily got onto the scale, which was covered with a paper advertisement for some veterinary product, and which made the scale less slippery than the floor. And within a minute, we walked into an exam room. He was doing GREAT, for him. He started panting a bit, but otherwise looked happy enough to be there. The tech came in and greeted both dogs, and took the temperature of each, and administered Cole’s rabies vaccine. Then she asked if she could take Otto in the back for the blood sample.

I hesitated for a moment, but he was doing great, and she seemed to have a good handling technique with him. I actually considered for a moment that I didn’t want to come across as nutty and overprotective. So I broke my own rule, and said, “Sure, you can take him in the back.” To my credit, I also said, “Please just let him take his time, don’t pull him if he stops for a second, he’s just REALLY cautious on the slippery floors.” She said, “No problem!” and she chirped at him, and he went with her through the door into the back quite cheerfully, no hesitation or balking – though with the usual “walking on ice” gait he uses on slippery floors.

They were gone a bit longer than it takes to take a blood sample, and my son and I were discussing what might have gone awry when the tech and Otto walked back in – accompanied by the unmistakable odor of released anal glands. My son quickly pulled his shirt over his nose and mouth, as I asked, “What happened?! He’s usually good with blood draws!” The tech said, “Oh, he was really good! He did that right afterward, for some reason. We tried to clean it off . . . do you want us to bathe him for you?”

I answered no; I didn’t want him back out of my sight again! And I was instantly so mad at myself. Why is it so hard to trust one’s own instincts, and just gently request (then insist, if need be) that the procedure be done right there, not “in the back”?

On the way home (with the car windows open), my son and I discussed what we thought probably happened; we were both certain that he must have stalled on the floor at some corner and someone tried to pull him along, forcefully enough to panic him, if just for a moment. The tech said that he was good for the actual blood sample, and I would expect him to be; I’ve been present many times for the procedure with him, and he’s never seemed to notice or mind either the restraint or the needle.

I know that veterinarians and technicians have many good reasons to prefer the dog to be “in the back” for routine procedures, and in some cases, it might be truly necessary. However, this was a reminder to me that I need to insist, every time, that for simple things like blood samples, Otto stays in the exam room with me.

Otto is mature enough now that I don’t think the scary event will scar his sensitive psyche; he was perfectly cheerful and comfortable with the veterinarian’s exam immediately after this. And he was due for a bath anyway. But I feel like I failed him – and it could have been worse.

What’s your policy on this practice at the vet’s office?

Comments (38)

I live in a state where our Techs are NOT and don't have a licensed or even have schooling or be certificated. They are hired from off the street. So you and me can be techs. It is a joke to say the least. Yet, these techs think they have the right to take your pet in the back. The state I live in too the people here always are timid and let someone like a tech take their beloved pet in the back. It's ashamed. I had an experience with that just today. The Vet says he was taking my dog in the back and I said I'm coming. He kept giving me excuses but I wouldn't take NO for an answer. Even his tech tired to bully me to not let me be there and I wouldn't back down. I said, to the tech if I can't be here then bring my dog and we will leave. Like the previous comments said, You don't let a doctor or nurse take your children in the back alone. I even had a doctor lecture me when I had my infant daughter and I was about to leave the room and let him examine her. He told me you DO NOT EVER LEAVE A BELOVED LIVING CHILD/ANIMAL WITH A STRANGER;NEVER. This doctor went on to explain that if the licensed professional is really looking out for you and your loved ones best interest he/she would NOT want to be left alone with them for any reason; especially routine examines (blood draws of any type; anal gland excrete, nail clipping etc). Only like sterile surgery and higher procedures. Where there has to be a sterile field. So GOOD for all you people who stand up for your beloved pets; keep doing it because there is so much ugliness and wrong doing going on; that our pets needs us owners to be there right by their side always. To PROTECT ANIMAL HEALTH but also WELFARE and to not only relieve animal suffering; but to PREVENT IT. This sentence is part of the Veterinarian's swearing of their Oath (just changed to this). But, most of them today; don't follow. It's unbelievable; but true. Love your pet; for they are your best friend and companion always at your side.

Posted by: fedup | December 18, 2016 1:46 AM    Report this comment

Hello, as a fellow animal lover I can understand people's worry for their pets and need to be there to comfort them. Heck, I'm practically obsessed with my pets! But I also know that they can be difficult about things and I am understanding when they need to be restrained a certain way.

As a vet tech, I also have to say that it can be very nerve wracking and challenging to draw blood in the room with the owner present. Most owners insist on restraining their dog but do not know how to hold their dog for a blood draw or simply let them go during the blood draw. Not a good idea when a needle is involved, lol. Some dogs are protective of their owners (I dislike the word aggressive since I know they are just scared) and this can be especially challenging if it is a multiple pet appointment since they might think we are hurting their doggy brother when we are just getting his blood. Also, some pet owners are very sensitive; if their dog yelps, whines, or even moves, they freak out. I swear, I would never hurt your pet, but needles can hurt ( know personally) and sometimes they jump or yelp.

Veins can be tricky; you have to not only have good restraint of the pet (usually as simple as the owner holding their dog's head and telling them how good they're being) but there must also be "restraint" of the vein, called "holding off" the vein. We must find the vein by feel alone since most dogs have fur and/or thick skin. I hate poking a dog or cat more than once for a blood draw; it makes me feel like a bad tech and I understand the pain of needles since I have a good deal of health issues myself.

From this story, they should have simply done that blood draw in the room with you. Otto sounds like a sweet boy; I doubt he would have been difficult for a blood draw. At my clinic, all blood draws are done in the room unless there are problems (owner is squeamish or requests not to see it, dog is attempting to bite {again, usually they feel the need to protect their owner}, there was a previously difficult blood draw, or an excessive amount of blood is needed for special testing.)

It all comes down to trust; you should trust not only the vet but also the vet techs since they must draw blood, take x-rays, trim nails, etc. while making it as comfortable as possible for your pet. My dog was quicked once (nail was cut too short and she bled) and now she is sensitive to nail trims but we work with her and move slowly. If you are going to a clinic and you think they are too rough with your pet or uncaring to your concerns, you should find another vet clinic for your pet's comfort and your peace of mind.

Posted by: VetTech547 | April 12, 2016 9:26 PM    Report this comment

My vet recently started taking my dogs "in the back" to draw blood. They used to do it right in the exam room. Three days ago, my 6 lb. pomeranian had to have blood drawn. She was brought "in the back" and it took 45 minutes for them to draw her blood. They explained that her veins were small and it was difficult for them to draw her blood. She looked petrified when she came out and it was hard for her to walk that night and the next day. When I called them to find out why she seemed to be in such pain, they said it was probably because her teeth were bothering her (she was getting blood drawn for dental surgery). Never once did they say it could be because of all the prodding, etc. to try to find a vein to draw blood. In fact, the tech was almost rude to me when I asked about why she was limping. I am seriously thinking about changing vets, but it appears from reading all these comments, that this is a common practice. My thought is that my dog would have been more relaxed if I was with her. I recall when they drew blood previously in the exam room, it never took 45 minutes to find a vein.

Posted by: DeeKan | February 27, 2016 4:54 PM    Report this comment

michele - your story breaks my heart. What insensitive louts those people were. It is not your fault for "letting this happen". We are all conditioned to put our trust in vets and to do as they say. Sometimes they abuse our trust. I'm so sorry that happened.

Posted by: helenc | January 6, 2015 12:10 AM    Report this comment

I dont like "the back" at all. I assume it's a way to have everybody accessable for the vet like an assembly line.
My dog was very ill and I thought I was going to be put in an exam room with him. The tech/assistant instead took the leash from me and dragged him to the back. He could barely walk and it made me so sad. I wanted to help him. I wanted to comfort him. I was very uneasy with this but was told he needed to be evaluated. 45 minutes had passed then I was placed in an exam room. The vet finally came in and told me he didnt look good and gave me two scenarios. One...He's got a bad infection and could use a strong antibiotic and steroid. Two....he could have a huge mass in his chest which he wouldnt survive.
I told him to give him the antibiotic right away then. I just wanted to be with him. Vet said he would give it to him. Still making me wait in the little exam room. 2 minutes later he comes back in to tell me he's passed away. I'm like "WHAT!"
I NEED TO GET TO HIM ! I had to physically push my way through to "the back" where he was lying on the cold ground taking his last breath.
It has been two weeks and I still cant get the thought of him being scared and alone. All I wanted to do is hold him. I feel his last thoughts are that I abandoned him to die with strangers. When they saw he was actually dying, I should have been told and given the option to be by his side. I will never forgive myself for letting this happen.

Posted by: michele_marr | November 19, 2014 12:48 AM    Report this comment

To 376NYC: I know that annual titers are not necessary. I do this every year to demonstrate to our readers -- and to my dog's "conventional" veterinarians -- that immunization lasts a long time. I adopted Otto at the approximate age of 7 months in June 2008; he had been vaccinated a LOT with various combination vaccines at the shelter. The only vaccines he's received since were for rabies, and once, a nasal bordetella vaccine required for an agility class we took.

Posted by: Nancy Kerns | May 7, 2014 12:23 PM    Report this comment

I'm happily surprised that there are so many people who are not bothered by watching veterinary procedures. Maybe I've been unlucky with people who gasp, scream, hide their faces, and pass out in the exam room. It does make it kind of hard to concentrate on the task at hand :). Not to mention how it affects the pets- yikes! I need more calm, collected clients like all the commenters here.

Posted by: furbabyvet | March 31, 2014 2:48 PM    Report this comment

How do I get our 3 mini-schnauzers to get along with my daughter's triple doodle who is big?

Posted by: schnauzer3 | March 30, 2014 7:16 PM    Report this comment

I do realize that some owners contribute to the animals anxiety.

Posted by: McGuires_Mom | March 30, 2014 8:51 AM    Report this comment

Oh, I have a definitive opinion on this.
My first two rescues, were allowed to leave the room. I noticed they became resistant and began to wonder what was happening behind the scenes. When I saw the vet tech dragging one of them, well ...

My dog is NOT allowed out of my sight! I am calm, cool and collected. I don't save the dog, nor do I baby him. My dog is trained, if they need him to sit - I can ask him to sit with signals. I object his being forced into a sit - he was taught to resist force as part of his obedience training. Also,when he is forced into a sit - he will slide and then the vet tech becomes annoyed; he can position himself better when he sits on his own. Despite the wonderful low stress handling methods developed by Sophia Yin, many vet techs still manhandle dogs.

Also, my dog has vision issues - he often pauses when going from room to room while his eyes adjust - I don't want anyone pulling him.

No parent would ever allow a child to be taken to another room for a blood draw, weighing, or shots - why is it acceptable to do it to our dogs?

Posted by: McGuires_Mom | March 30, 2014 8:47 AM    Report this comment

My dog was experiencing some dermatology issues and I took her to a vet with whom I was unfamiliar being new to the area. I had always practiced a reduced vaccination schedule and made all of her food (this was before quality pet food was more readily available). The vet took her "in the back" to weigh her. When he returned he informed me that he had given her a cortisone shot as well as a 3 year rabies vaccination. I was livid! Fortunately we found a much more ethical vet who has never taken our pets to the back for routine exams, etc. I agree that nurses and doctors don't take our children "to the back" nor would we likely be okay with that practice. For vets who are concerned about their patient's anxious parent, educating them on safety concerns seems appropriate.

Posted by: car | March 28, 2014 3:38 PM    Report this comment

My vet will let me go in the back if I wish. Depending on what is going on I do or don't. But to alleviate the slippery floor problem, and not only at the vets, get the dog some socks with silicone on the bottom or boots. Problem solved. You could still train him to feel at ease on slippery surfaces but at your location of choice.

Posted by: Nicki | March 28, 2014 2:13 PM    Report this comment

mspetrin..... Do not be nervous to tell them that you want to be present when they are taking care of your four legged friend. Stand your ground, you will feel much better and there won't be any doubt in your mind. That's the way your old vet did it and that's what you want now, no ands, ifs or buts about it. Rest at ease.

Posted by: ShirlM | March 26, 2014 11:33 AM    Report this comment

I took my chocolate lab Icy to the vets and they took her in the back for a blood test. My other vet never ever did that. I waited and waited and waited, started wondering why it was taking so long. Then I heard her crying and wimpering so I ran up the steps and there were two guys pulling on her leash and tapping and hitting her on her butt.... I was so furious I started screaming at them and pulled the leash out of their hands ..... I was ready to beat both of them to a pulp. The waiting room was full also .. so everyone out there heard what was going on.
I will never ever let anyone take her from me again. I have heard really bad stories about vets and techs hurting, slapping, hitting, mistreating pets. If ever it happens in front of me may God hold me back, I do not and WILL not stand for that kind of treatment to any animal period. I was really ashamed of myself for even letting them take her to the back. Never again!

Posted by: ShirlM | March 26, 2014 10:53 AM    Report this comment

My vet is using my BECKKY-BOARD: Walk-Over Nail-Filing Mat For Dogs. It gives the dog a firm grip on a non-slip surface and trims the nails at the same time. They also loan out the mats so clients can try before they buy.

Posted by: BECKKY-BOARD | March 26, 2014 3:40 AM    Report this comment

I work at an open practice - we NEVER separate clients from their dogs or cats while in the hospital. We do blood draws, nail trims, and other procedures in the room with the owner present. If we need to take the pet "in the back" for radiographs or other procedures, we encourage the clients to come along. If they wish, clients can observe surgeries or even be in the surgery suite. As an RVT and Veterinary Technician Specialist, I LOVE working in an open practice. No client ever has to worry about how their beloved family member is being treated. I liken it to taking a child to the pediatrician: would a parent be OK with a nurse taking their newborn "in the back" for shots? Why should a dog or cat be treated differently than a child?

For those interested - and in the Bay Area - my practice is Adobe Animal Hospital (www.adobe-animal.com)

Posted by: liz_hughston_RVT | March 25, 2014 10:49 PM    Report this comment

As a vet tech for 20 plus years, I have to agree with the vets and techs that posted here. We really aren't going to "manhandle" or or be disrespectful to your pet or wishes by taking them "in the back". We are protecting you and/or your pet. I have actually seen a girl pass out during a routine ear cleaning of her dog. She cracked her head on the wall. We are not allowed to perform direct first aid to humans. Pet parents also believe that their cat or dog would never bite. The hardest part is when an owner has that mindset and attempts to keep their face/hands near the pets mouth. (kissing and "reassuring") The animal often absorbs and feeds off the owners apprehension (albeit completely unintentional on the pet parents part) and unfortunately if this is allowed to happen, the likelihood of someone getting hurt is much higher. Pet parents....please express your concerns. If it is determined without doubt that going in "the back" is best for all concerned, please allow us to take the best care of your pet possible (as well as you). You know your pet best, but sometimes that unique and close tie can create unforeseen issues. We are all in this profession because we love your dog, your cat, your ferret, your turtle, your ....family member, whatever the species might be. That's why we are here.

Posted by: Rebel N Takiah | March 25, 2014 9:42 PM    Report this comment

Thank you so much for this post, I'm tired of being treated like a freak for (trying to) insist on being present to reduce the stress and fear. Some vets and techs get it, and they are lovely to work with. Others take offense and assert their dominance ("We're trained professionals, where's your veterinary degree?"), others play the insurance card. But even among those who allow it, most act like they're indulging your hysteria. Most completely discount the 12 years of experience I have with my dog. The dragging!!! JEEZ, we owners would all be accused of abuse if we did that. Once when we were traveling, my dog needed her anal glands expressed, and the tech refused to allow me to accompany, for "insurance reasons" (the joys of rural communities, the only vet in town). Then she dragged my dog down the hallway... I waited for 10 minutes, finally see my dog dragging her back to me - the tech THROWS the leash at me, saying, "Take her! I couldn't do it, she wouldn't cooperate," then storms off. Another time, my dog came back limping, the tech had the nerve to say, "It's her own fault, she struggled too much." I've gradually gotten more assertive over the issue, resulting in a major blow up with one (former) vet, and particularly the practice of trying to physically restrain my dog, which scares the bejeepers - and body fluids - out of her (god forbid they work a couple of extra minutes to gain a dog's trust and cooperation). It is so sad that so much veterinary practice is about what is convenient for the professionals, not what is best for the animals . . .

Posted by: jes | March 25, 2014 9:16 PM    Report this comment

I always insist everything be done in the exam room in which I am present. And why do you Titer annually? That's not necessary. At the most you would Titer every 3 years as that is the cycle of vaccines assuming he has a good antibody level when you Titer.

Posted by: 376NYC | March 25, 2014 8:04 PM    Report this comment

Boy am I glad I live in a less populated area with only a handful of vets. My vet does everything in the exam room, except surgeries - no techs to learn on my dog. However she doesn't have some equipment and refers us to other vets when needed. When my dog with cancer needed xrays we went to a larger vet facility with a large waiting room. When the techs wanted to take my dog in the back, I asked how long my dog would be gone. After being told my dog was to sit in a cage until the vet was ready, I announced that I would take my dog back with them. (No, I did not ask - just told them as though I was being helpful.) The back room was horrific - piles of old newspapers, an outrageously loud fan, and agitated pets in cages. I said No I will not leave my dog here, I'll be outside and they can call me in once the vet is ready. I treat any issue with my dogs according to what I feel is best for each dog. I am polite and friendly to the humans, yet clear in what I want. And if a vet or tech gave me a good reason to change my mind, I would.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | March 25, 2014 5:09 PM    Report this comment

If a vet asks to take my fur babies in back, I find another vet!

Posted by: peppywasmylove16plus | March 25, 2014 1:53 PM    Report this comment

I am so glad to hear that I am not alone! I have never felt comfortable having my animals taken away from me at the vet, but until recent years have not had the nerve to speak up. My policy is that the procedure is done in the exam room or I go in back too. I have been told in some clinics that I cannot go in back because it is against insurance policies. I truly believe that is a BS story to get people to shut up and comply without arguement with what is more convenient for the clinic staff. In my opinion taking animals in back is more than anything a matter of convenience for staff. I would never be asked or expected to allow an infant or toddler to go in back without me, why should my animals be any different? At the very least a client should always be asked if they want to be present, some people do not. I do not understand that, but it is their choice. In one situation I took a paralyzed male in for a routine urine check. I asked for cysto because I have been told that is the gold standard for urine collection. Had I not insisted that I was present, my dog would have been catheterized, because the techs came in with catheter equipment to do the draw. Being present helps prevent accidents big and small from occuring.

Posted by: KKBaker | March 25, 2014 12:38 PM    Report this comment

Never had any issues with stuff being done to my Gretel "in the back". Unfortunately, we've been to the vet quite a bit (if the vet had a frequent visitor program, we'd be platinum elite), and most often I can't make an appointment ahead of time, so it's either wait a few days to see the vet or drop her off to be seen at some point during the day. One of the things we went in for was impacted anal glands...I'd rather not be present for that treatment! Luckily my vet is super awesome.

Posted by: hareynolds | March 25, 2014 11:48 AM    Report this comment

I Uneasily allowed my vet (at the time) to take my happy, trusting, & cooperative 3 year old great dane to the back to do a bladder tap for a suspected UTI.
They were gone for a long time and I could hear commotion. When they finally brought her back to me she was obviously traumatized. Shaking, panting, tail between her legs!
The vet told me they had to stick her several times to get the sample.
They did not even obtain a proper sample as the culture did not grow anything. They had me repeat an antibiotic for the third time which obviously was not working.
On my own, I took her to a specialist who did an ultrasound guided bladder tap (only one poke) who had the culture/sensitivities back & on the right meds to take care of this problem she had been having for months.
Since then she no longer trusts any vet, she shakes, pants, tail between her legs, and refuses to walk with them if they try to take her anywhere.
With positive reinforcement training this anxiety is better but not totally gone.
She also has developed anxiety based fears of rain, wind, thunder/lightening shortly after that visit to the vet. She is almost 8 Years old now and still struggles with this anxiety.
Needless to say we found a new vet immediately and I never allow them to do anything with her without my presence. Nor with any of my other dogs.
She has a thunder shirt, & pheromone collar we use religiously which helps somewhat, along with positive reinforcement and emotional support.
I should have trusted my gut and never let them take her alone. I will never make that mistake again.

Posted by: DianaL Bloomsburg PA | March 25, 2014 11:11 AM    Report this comment

"Sending your dog to the back" without you is unnecessarily stressful on your dog or any pet. IF this was your 3 year old child, would you just take them to the doctor, drop them off and tell them to do what they needed to do? If you love your animal/"fur-child", give them the same emotional support you would offer to your child, when dealing with a vet trip. I want to be there to see what the vet is doing and ask questions right then and there. I also help the vet or vet techs by putting myself between the business end of my dog (his teeth) and them, in case they do something he/she doesn't really like. My vet appreciates it and my dog appreciates me being there! The last thing I want is my dogs to be loathed by the vet, because they like the taste of my vet!

Posted by: Maranatha_Mark | March 25, 2014 11:01 AM    Report this comment

I'm new to being a dog owner and I've been taking my dog to a practice that has multiple vets. Mostly they seem great, but I would like to ask for a specific vet - he does everything in the room with me. The vet before him was young and ASKED me to go into the back with her for her vaccines, and ASKED me to put a muzzle on her. It was odd. She seemed afraid of my dog, and I can't figure out why.

Posted by: WhiteRiver | March 25, 2014 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Never again will I allow a dog to be taken "in the back". I have left the last veterinary clinic that had this policy. I took two dogs In. One was to have her stitches removed after a spay procedure and the other dog was to have his anals expressed. My female returned to me looking sort of strange and the male was OK. When I got them home, I found that the female stitches were still in place and I called the vet to find out what they had done to my dog! She had her anals expressed!
At my current vets, they did the procedures In front of me, but had started allowing a tech to do blood draws instead of the vet. The tech gouged my dog more than two times and still no blood! I insisted that In the future, no more vet techs drawing blood. My policy for me and my dogs is only 2 sticks and you're done!! One must be an advocate for proper care for one's dog! Speak up!!! This dog had great veins and was not a difficult stick.

Posted by: Ms. Jerry Dewberry | March 25, 2014 10:50 AM    Report this comment

Just a few days ago I took 4 dogs into the vets office. I normally tell them i would like everything done in the room where I am. This time I didn't so they took the largest dog out for a blood draw. Knowing they would use the leg I did not feel this would be to bad. I could hear them saying they couldn't get her to stay still long enough to get anything. I do believe since I am a trainer I could have given her a command to stay and she would have been much better. It took 10-15 min before they brought her back into the room (way to long for a draw). The next 3 dogs I had them take care of in the room. I stayed back to give them plenty of room. The first dog struggled because they did not hold him firmly. I told them to let him know he is not to struggle and he won't move. It worked fine. He didn't move a muscle until they were done. The other dog - after they tried 3-4 times to find the jugular by sticking her each time and then moving the needle all over and failed, I knew they were practicing techs. I then mentioned that others have had problems drawing blood from this little dog and perhaps the doctor could do it. So they stopped. The doctor did have to really search and feel for the jugular, but drew blood on the first stick. Now what would have happened if they had the dogs in the back room?

Posted by: Carol_E | March 24, 2014 11:49 PM    Report this comment

I have a theory that vet techs are trained to tell the owner that the dog did great in the back, no matter how they really were. One of my dogs had gone to the back room a few times with no issues, then one day suddenly he was completely terrified of going through the doors to the back room, or anywhere near there. I suspect a bad experience as there was one time I heard some yelling that sounded like "get him out of here" when he was in the back, but when he came back to the exam room the tech said he had been great. Anyone care to confirm? These days I always ask for any blood work to be done in the exam room with me there. All the vets I have been to in my area say owners can't go in the back for liability reasons.

Posted by: ChristineH | March 24, 2014 11:01 PM    Report this comment

I am so grateful that my current vet has an "open door" policy and allows family to be present. I am still very upset about an episode at a vet seen for a life-impacting health issue. My dog cowered between and behind my legs and I should have followed her lead. I am so sorry I didn't listen to her. They took her in back, and without even explaining or getting my consent did a fine needle biopsy. I wish I would have sued them to teach them a lesson, but at the time felt they were the last game in town. Now I will always trust my gut. Just before seeing this individual, we had driven a distance and spent much time at the referral clinic...where the vet had the nerve to suggest she should have thousands of dollars worth of testing, at the least ultra sounding everything, suggesting sedation! Which she did NOT need when I was present and it was done at the routine vet. She BS'd me about what good care they give, that she treats all of them as if they were her own...blah blah blah. She was perturbed obviously because I blacked out the wording on the consent form to allow only her to do any exams and procedures...based on the fact in the past she had demonstrated what I thought was some compassion. People change. Money was the motivation. In fact, when I called for this appt, the appt taker said to have my pup fast for 72 hours. I said that's THREE days. Yes, but she can have water. This was because this little individual anticipated they would automatically do a colonoscopy! And never asked if she had any hypoglcemic or diabetic issues...When I said I wanted to talk to the vet FIRST, I was refused. You can't talk to the vet until you are a patient; you aren't a patient until you've had the $100+ consult. In the end I am happy to say I refused allowing her to do anything.
I think if we all bond together and stop allowing this stuff, they will learn they will lose business.
Sometimes BTW I think they want to take the pups in back so if they have new people practicing and they screw it up or have to repeat it or are traumatizing our pets, we don't know.
No more.
btw...I will now have a new found appreciation for the fact that our vet's waiting area and exam rooms are carpeted.

Posted by: robin r | March 24, 2014 10:17 PM    Report this comment

I prefer to be present for procedures and generally my Vet does everything in front of me. I do trust these folks though now well enough to take her in the back if needed. My Sheltie actually LOVES going to my regular Vet!
I did have a bad experience though one time when I took my dog to an emergency clinic for a bladder infection and they took her in the back for a urine draw. My furkids are always great for Vets, groomers, etc, so I became worried after waiting for OVER 45 minutes for them to return her to me. I was relieved when I got her back. After we got home I saw a large bruise on her lower abdomen. I was furious, wondering, "what the heck they did to her for all that time!", and have vowed never to return to that clinic. I had never seen such bruising as a result of getting a urine draw on any of my pets. Since then, when going to an unknown Vet, I will insist on being present.

Posted by: Fairy Dog Mother | March 24, 2014 9:36 PM    Report this comment

I have a Service Dog, and the rule with him is we are never to be separated. I was at the vets where he had to have a blood draw and I had to specifically tell them I had to stay with him and they had nerve enough to give me half a look! I have a new vet now. Oh- and I did go into the other room with him.

Posted by: Cheshire Cat | March 24, 2014 7:36 PM    Report this comment

I have worked as a tech for 26 years. We almost never take animals away from their owners. Most will leave the room if they don't want to watch. Some even leave because they know the dog behaves better when they aren't present. Yes, we occasionally have to ask an owner to step back, but sometimes their presence is actually calming. It just depends. Nancy, have you tried the little traction stickers that you can put on each pad to help with such issues? They are amazing for senior dogs on slippery floors too!

Posted by: KMOZZ | March 24, 2014 6:43 PM    Report this comment

My vet always did routine blood in front of me. When he retired I had to find another vet. This vet took the dogs in the back for everything. I don't take my dogs there anymore. I found another vet who does these procedures in my presence.

Posted by: JaneenS | March 24, 2014 6:07 PM    Report this comment

I prefer to remain with my pet through all procedures except surgery. I trust my vet, and my vet knows I'm sensible regarding my dogs and cats. I don't get in the way, and frequently can calm my pet during a procedure that makes him/her nervous. I'm also able to ask questions that I wouldn't think about if I didn't witness the procedure. I'm uncomfortable with a vet that does not respect that and coldly informs me that I'm not needed in the examining room.

Posted by: Michelle F | March 24, 2014 6:01 PM    Report this comment

As a vet, I wholly agree that it is your right to insist to be with your pet. However, in my 20 years of experience, almost all already nervous dogs are less nervous and less reactive when away from their owners, therefore making the experience easier for both the dog and the owner.
I have had 2 clients over the years pass out when watching us draw blood from the jugular vein, for which I could have been sued, according to our insurance company, if they had gotten hurt. I have had owners bitten when their dog reacts to a procedure, even though we always ask that the owners step away. We have much more to worry about when we have to control well intentioned owners as well as the other dog in the room, in addition to the animal we are working on.
As a policy, I always ask owners if they are comfortable with it and will do many procedures in the exam room if the owner wants. Another option is to ask if there is a window you can observe without your pet seeing you- not all hospitals will have convenient windows for this.
In the end, you need to have a good relationship with your vet and trust that they are going to tell you the truth about whether your individual dog is better, or worse away from you. If they don't respect your wishes or if you don't trust their answer, there is a much more basic problem...

Posted by: CarolynR | March 24, 2014 5:28 PM    Report this comment

My policy is to be present for anything done to or with my dog, and fortunately my vet is okay with that. Unless the owner chooses not to be, in my opinion it is their right to be present.

Posted by: MsSHunt | March 24, 2014 5:09 PM    Report this comment

I have just recently been having this conversation. My regular vet ALWAYS does blood draws and shots in front of me. I have recently had to visit a new vet for my senior dog and this vet does all of this "in the back". I want to ask for it to be done in front of me just because that's what I'm used to and comfortable with, but I've been nervous to.

Posted by: mspetrin | March 24, 2014 4:11 PM    Report this comment

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