Analysis published by the 2023 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report suggested almost half (48%) of veterinary professionals had seen an increase in the number of dogs being euthanised on behavioural grounds.

A majority of those surveyed (60%) also reported an overall rise in the level of behaviour issues they had seen in practice over the preceding two years.

Source – Vet Times Allister Web May 15th, 2023.

Is your dog aggressive towards the vet?  Find out why this might be and what you can do to help.

The following articles give useful advice and tips for how to help your dog when they show fear aggression at the Vets

As a practice, our experience reflects the reports above and we are seeing an increase in the level of behavioural issues, particularly in dogs, visiting our surgeries.

Whilst we do appreciate pets may be in discomfort or have heightened anxiety when visiting the surgery, we also have a duty to protect our staff.  Our vets & nurses have the right to protect themselves from injury.

Your pet’s & our staff welfare will always be of the utmost priority, and so we will make decisions based on the presumed anxiety levels of your pet & the potential risk to our staff.

We have implemented the following protocol to help protect our staff & ensure we can appropriately treat your pet:


If your dog is aggressive at home, or has a history of aggression with members of the public/visitors to the house or on previous vet visits then it is your responsibility to inform us before the examination starts. Your dog will need to be muzzled before entering one of our practices.  Muzzle training will be required at home & steps on how to do this can be found within the links above.

If you are unable to muzzle your dog, then our staff will be unable to muzzle your dog.  We are seeing an increased expectation from pet owners that Veterinary staff should be able to handle aggressive pets, unfortunately if the animal doesn’t feel safe enough with the owner to allow a muzzle to be placed then it’s highly unlikely they will allow anyone else to.  Once again we would recommend muzzle training at home.

If your dog has never previously shown signs of aggression, but during a consultation our vets feel they are displaying signs of fear aggression then our staff member has the right to cease their examination.

Depending on the nature of the appointment, it may be in your pet’s best interests to terminate the appointment and for you to return another day, to prevent further stress.

The Vet may also wish to continue with the examination but request you place a muzzle.  If the dog is tolerant then our staff member will be able to assist you in placing the muzzle.

In the above instances, we will place a warning sign on your pet’s record, to indicate to other future staff members that your dog may show fear aggression in our surgeries, and you will be encouraged to muzzle train your dog at home in preparation for future visits to us.

In some instances we may feel it is appropriate to prescribe anti-anxiety medication which you can give your pet at home prior to a vet visit, please discuss this with one of our Vets, they will be able to advise whether this is appropriate for your pet.

If you own an aggressive dog and are unable to muzzle or restrain the dog then we will not be able to see your pet for an appointment. We will work with you to give advice in any way we can, however if you are unable to muzzle or restrain your dog then it is highly likely that we will also be unable to.


  • If your cat has a history of aggressive behaviour at home, for example when you have attempted to tablet or groom your cat then we kindly request you inform the Vet or Nurse at the very beginning of the consultation.
  • In some instances we may be able to offer a second staff member to assist in holding your cat, if necessary. We may sometimes use the assistance of a towel in order to contain the cats legs/claws.
  • If your cat is known to bite then we must be made aware, cat bites & scratches are potentially very dangerous due to the known bacteria they carry within their mouths & under their claws. Without appropriate medical attention, severe septic infections can develop.
  • If your cat is known to bite then we reserve the right to refuse to attempt to administer tablets, for example a wormer. A topical or injectable treatment will be recommended & may incur higher costs.
  • If we are restraining your cat & feel they are becoming too stressed then we reserve the right to terminate the examination & the Vet will then discuss whether sedation is appropriate in order to continue.