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petplan pet insurance presents: a primer on vet visit etiquette

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan



Entering the veterinary office can sometimes be a daunting task.

You've already traveled by car to get there with a pet who may be anxious or overexcited, and you may be dreading what’s on the other side of the front door. The waiting room at the vet’s office can be a madhouse on busy days. Even on quiet days, it’s still likely to have at least a few nervous pets and their owners. To avoid drama at the doc, it is best to plan ahead and follow a few basic guidelines. Read on for my top 10 tips for making sure you follow correct waiting room “pet-iquette” at your next visit!

  1. Be on time. While this isn't really waiting room manners, it does show common courtesy to your veterinarian, the staff, and all of the other appointments for the day. When you’re late, you make your veterinarian late to the rest of the appointments for the day.
  2. Have your dog on a leash. If you have a flexi-lead, lock it at no more than 4 feet long. As you sign in for your appointment and catch up with the receptionist, keep one eye on your dog to make sure he’s not getting into trouble.
  3. Do not allow your pet to approach other pets. Some pets prefer to be left alone, especially when they’re sick or injured. Remember, this is the waiting room of a doctor’s office – sick pets may have a communicable disease, even if they are not showing obvious symptoms of illness.
  4. Do not approach other people’s pets or allow your kids to approach other people’s pets without first asking permission from the owner. Though many veterinary diseases are zoonotic (meaning they can pass on to your or your family), there is more danger of being bitten by a pet who views you as a threat.
  5. Allow your dog to potty before you enter the building. If an accident occurs in the lobby, don’t be embarrassed – it happens all the time! But do tell a staff member so that they can clean up the mess.
  6. If you have multiple pets with you, consider bringing a helper or two to assist you in corralling the herd.
  7. Use a carrier for your cat. There should be no exception to this rule, unless you prefer to tote them into the office in a pillow case (some cats actually prefer this method, as they cannot see out). Cats should NEVER be carried in arms into the clinic. This method is begging for disaster.
  8. Don’t be afraid to speak up if your pet is unsociable or if other pets are invading your space. Other clients in the waiting room may not be as savvy as you are regarding waiting room etiquette. 
  9. If you have a particularly frightened animal, ask the receptionist if you can wait outside or in your car. Sometimes there is an available exam room where you can wait in peace with your pet.
  10. Keep cell phone use to a minimum. Again, this isn't strictly waiting room etiquette, but it should go without saying that answering your cell phone while your veterinarian or their staff is trying to discuss your pet’s health with you is disrespectful to both your veterinarian and your pet.


Follow these simple rules to help make your cat or dog’s next trip to the doc as drama-free as possible!



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Chris AshtonCo-Founder and Co-CEO of Petplan Pet Insurance
vet tip of the week

Visit your vet at least once a year to keep your pet protected from preventable diseases.