Veterinary offices – with the smells and scents of other animals and people they don’t know – can be scary places for your pet. While some pets are excited to go to the vet’s office, other animals can experience a great deal of anxiety. We would like to help you and your furry friend have as stress-free a visit as possible, so we have put together the following list of things that you can do to help reduce some of the anxiety that might come with a visit to the veterinarian. These suggestions are part of the Fear Free movement, promoted by noted veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker. Some of these things will take time and practice to see improvements, but overall, they can help your pet have a more positive experience when it comes time for their checkups or scheduled procedures.
- If you use a carrier or restraint device, begin conditioning your pet to these items before your vet visit. You can use a carrier as a place to rest around your home so that it is more familiar and doesn’t become associated with fear. You can travel with your pet with these devices when they go other places so that they are not associated only with going to the vet’s office. An occasional meal in your car can also alleviate some of the stress of travel. You can also make a fun stop into your vet’s office for a treat or some loving attention from the staff when you don’t have an appointment to help your pet become accustomed to the clinic and the people.
- Before your vet visit, you might want to take a walk with your dog to get him/her a little tired so that they are more relaxed when it is time for their appointment. If you notice expressions of anxiety, look away so that it sends a message that you don’t agree with their need for feeling upset. Try soothing music prior to your visit or in the car on the way to your appointment – something classical or special-made calming CD’s for pets.
- Try to schedule your appointment for earlier in the day so that there is less time in the waiting room, or wait with your pet in the car until the exam room is ready for them. You can also make sure there are no other pets in the lobby prior to bringing yours in so that the “threat level” to your pet is reduced.
- Don’t feed your pet a full meal prior to their appointment – and bring along some of your pet’s favorite treats. If they are still a bit hungry, they will be more receptive to accepting a positive reward for good behavior – and a less full stomach can prevent vomiting if the animal is anxious.
- Make sure that you are relaxed and not stressed yourself. Animals will often pick up on cues about emotion from their owners. If you are not comfortable or if you are experiencing anxiety about a procedure, consider allowing your pet to be taken to an exam room unaccompanied.
If these methods don’t help, there are also anti-anxiety medications that can be given to your pet prior to their visit that can help to calm them and provide for a better experience. Our office can make recommendations for these if it is determined that they might be helpful.We are always looking for ways to make your pet’s vet visit a stress-free experience for all. If there are other ways that we can help you, please let us know!