I can understand why people are afraid of the doctor, because they have mental concepts of health and medicine.

But why should an animal be any more afraid of the vet than the post office or any other public space?

It doesn't seem like they would understand why they are there or what possible consequences it could have, the same way a human would being in a hospital.

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    $\begingroup$ They just don't like being manipulated the way they are. The same reason why you don't like to go to the dentist. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Sep 8, 2016 at 5:42
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    $\begingroup$ Rather opposite. If I'm ill i'n NOT affraid of the doctor because I "have the concept of" health, medicine and curing. Rather animals ARE affraid because they don't have the concept of health and medicine-action. If I had not "that"-concept, I would probably behave "inhuman" (within quotes); in the doctor's chamber $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Sep 8, 2016 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ Because most dogs are not "dumb animals". Cats are more mysterious, and I've never taken one to a vet, so I won't speak to their behavior there. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2016 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


Most animals are not afraid of the vet. When I was in practice, many dogs and cats waltzed in perfectly happily.

Of those that were afraid, I presume that many picked up expectations from their owner. The owners who tell themselves "My dog is going to be afraid of the vet!" will be tense and nervous themselves, and of course their pet will detect this and react the same way. Many owners were far more distressed than their pets were, expecting some huge negative reaction to the vaccination or something (the pet often didn't even notice the injection, until the owner squealed or shrieked with anxiety).

Finally, animals that experienced something negative on a previous visit -- perhaps a bad interaction with another animal in the waiting room, or their owner being afraid of needles, or actually having some unpleasant procedure -- will of course remember this.

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    $\begingroup$ My dogs are not afraid of the vet either. They are a little bit cowed by all the smells and sounds in the waiting room, but once in a room with the vet, they are more relaxed and quite cooperative. An occasional yawn and the relative lack of tail wagging suggests they aren't stupid about it, though. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2016 at 12:41

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