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Old 06-01-2013, 06:57 PM
Assamiea's Avatar
Assamiea Assamiea is offline
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Default Sedating a dog for blood work

Last week I took Rocky and Baxter in for their yearly heart worm tests. The vet has no problem doing anything to Rocky, but Baxter is another story.

They took Baxter to the back to draw his blood and he basically flipped out. It literally sounded like they were trying to draw blood from a Tasmanian devil fighting over a chunk of meat. It got so bad that one of the techs (there were two trying to hold him still) brought him back into the exam room for me to put a muzzle on him because he was trying to bite them and even after that they weren't able to get any blood from him. Now I've never know Baxter to bite anyone before this. He does playfully mouth but never fully closes on your hand. He's also had vaccines and blood work done before with no problem. The vet mentioned that the next time he comes in they may have to sedate him to draw blood.

Does anyone need to have their dog sedated for vet visits? How safe is it?

I know that the vet and the tech's need to be kept safe and the last thing I want is for one of them to get bitten, but I'm not really big on having my dog sedated every year for blood work. I did tell the vet that if he brought Baxter into the exam room it would be easier for him to do anything if I was in the room, but he basically said that I couldn't be touching Baxter while he was trying to take blood, which I thought was weird because he'll let both if the dogs lean against me if he's doing vaccines.
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:35 PM
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PWCorgi PWCorgi is offline
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If I were you I would start conditioning him to a muzzle and start working on having him stand still while people touch him.

Frodo isn't allowed to be taken in back and he has blood drawn while muzzled and eating squeeze cheese.

There are different types of sedation as well. I'd never let them give something like Ace to do this...

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Old 06-01-2013, 07:45 PM
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Southpaw Southpaw is offline
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For a once a year thing, I would have NO problem giving my dog a Xanax or a Valium so that nobody has to get bit or go through a wresting match in order to get some blood drawn.

I mean usually for these animals we send home pills, that the owner gives an hour or so before their appointment so that the animal is more sedate when they come in. They're not like, knocked out and loopy. Just more relaxed and easier to work with.

It's a nicer option for the dog too. Then they don't have to be wrestled so much.

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Old 06-01-2013, 08:06 PM
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BostonBanker BostonBanker is offline
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The first vet I went to with Gusto likely would have had to sedate him; he (or rather his tech initially) tried to draw blood for the heart worm test, and didn't hit the vein on the first try. He didn't try to bite at all, bless him, but he was screaming at the top of his lungs and struggling. He was getting neutered in a couple of weeks, so they said they would just do the heart worm test then.

The same vet (no tech this time, I was very clear that whoever was most likely to be successful on the first try needed to do the draw) was able to get blood from him with zero fuss the next time. I don't know if Gusto was in a different mood, or more acclimated to me and touch, or if the way he did it (he did a hind leg while Gusto liked up peanut butter, instead of a front leg with treats being fed), but it worked like a charm. I'm still insistent that the best blood drawer in the building has to do Gusto, and I have something that can be licked on hand, but they can now do blood draws on his front feet as well.

I think that if the vet asked me to give something like Valium ahead of time, I'd be willing to do it at least a few times. Give them the meds, major rewards, and try to make it a more positive experience. If my dog did well several times in a row, I might ask about gradually decreasing the dosage or trying without it.

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Old 06-01-2013, 08:20 PM
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sassafras sassafras is offline
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Minnesota
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Once a year, I would be ok with something like xanax or trazadone (which is becoming my new favorite), but that isn't full sedation. Even full sedation once a year isn't the end of the world, but having said that...

You can do amazing things with counter conditioning, especially if your vet's office is willing to be patient and take some direction from you the next time around. Start now and you'll be ready in plenty of time for next year. Maisy used to be absolutely terrified and panic for ANY restraint for anything... nail trims, blood draws, whatever. I've been working super hard for her for several months and her last blood draw for a heartworm test not only was the first time it wasn't a total rodeo, but it was completely drama and stress free.


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Old 06-01-2013, 09:12 PM
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Assamiea Assamiea is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 191

Thanks a lot everyone! I've never had a dog that needed to be sedated for vet visits and when he mentioned sedation my mind immediately went to anesthesia (surgical sedation). I have no problem giving a Xanax or Valium to him once a year for a visit. I'd rather not have Baxter being freaked out and definitely don't want the vet or tech's to get bitten.

That said, I have called my vet and they're more than willing to let me bring him in at off times to get more comfortable with the vet and the office, I just have to call first. I'm also going to start with counter conditioning. We've only been going to this vet for a few years and have only had this problem this year. He had no problem with the other trips and other vets, but I do think its time for some work on my part.

I really appreciate all of the info and advice.
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