Should an aggressive dog be sedated before seeing the veterinarian?

Our question this week was:

I just read your opinion on "How much help or hindrance can you be to the Veterinarian" My daughter has a Min Pin and he is aggressive toward people he does not know. My question is, the vet she uses insists on sedating him whenever she takes him in regardless if it is for a well check, shots, or if he is ill. What are your feelings on this? I have a
real problem with this but wondered what someone who is in the business would think. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.




Hi Karol – thanks for your email. You ask as very good and difficult question. Should an aggressive dog routinely be sedated for examination at the veterinarian's office?

It really depends on the dog and the veterinarian. I know many veterinarians that believe it is less stressful on the dog (and owner) to sedate them prior to examination and vaccinations. I understand this and believe it is okay in some situations.

The alternative is to gently muzzle the dog and let him deal with whatever happens. Sedation can really benefit some dogs and let them be less stressed.

Personally, I don't recommend sedating a dog when they are ill. It makes it difficult to know if they are acting lethargic or sedate from the underlying illness for from the sedative.

To be honest Karol, this is one of the most difficult aspects of veterinary medicine for many people. It is very difficult working with aggressive dogs. I don't know any vet that enjoys this situation. It is not an ideal situation all the way around. The vet worries about getting bit or having staff injured (or the owner), they don't want to stress the dog but want to do the best for the dog. At the same time the owner is generally all stressed out because they don't want anyone hurt but they have and dog they can't control. Not ideal. So sedation can be an option in a difficult situation.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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