Like many people dread going to the doctor, the vet can be a source of anxiety for our pets. Luckily, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of the anxiety your pet feels when it senses a vet visit is coming up.
Preparing for your visit
If possible, hold off on your pet's regular feeding before you go. This will reduce the risk of accidents, as anxiety and stress can make your pet empty their bladder and bowels more frequently. Our team can give them tasty treats as rewards and distract them while they are with us. A pet receiving treats at our practice will form a positive association with the vet and the facility. They will think of it as a place where they are loved and fed!
One of the things you can do to increase the positive association with a visit to the vet is to visit us on a day when no medical examination or procedure is needed. The goal is to make your pet think that it is just a visit, with treats and love from friendly people. The more visits your pet has with treats and love, the less they will be stressed and full of anxiety for their medical visits.
If you have a cat, you can desensitise your cat to a carrier by having it out all the time at home. You can make it a nice place to lie down with the door open. This can help reduce stress for car rides and help desensitisation to new environments such as visiting the vet.
Practice holding and handling your pet and examining them from head to tail. This will help your pet feel less stressed when the vet or nurse examines them. You are, in essence, acquainting your pet to the different elements involved in a vet visit.
There are plug-in pheromone diffusers available for dogs and cats to reduce stress and tension further. In addition, it is helpful to spray the bedding in a pet carrier with an appropriate pheromone. Please ask us about this as we can recommend a pheromone that is appropriate for your pet and can also supply you with some. They help tremendously and allow your pet to have a worry-free visit.
When you arrive
The waiting area can be stressful if your pet is not used to being in the company of other pets. Many new pets haven't had a chance to interact with other pets over the last year due to restrictions imposed for COVID-19; if this is the case for your pet, you can contact us in advance to book a slot when our reception area is less busy. If you would rather wait in your car or outside, please let us know, and we can accommodate this.
Sudden loud noises can be upsetting for pets, so we work hard to keep noise to a minimum in our reception area. We encourage our teams to keep the reception area free of clutter and anything that would be distressing to your pet.
Interacting with your vet or nurse
Your vet or nurse will speak in a calm voice to create a relaxed environment for your pet. A lot of the time, our pets can feed off the anxieties of others.
We will examine your pet on the consulting room table or on the floor. Our team will determine which position is the safest and least stressful for your pet.
Having your pets' temperature taken or getting their weight checked are standard procedures and deserve praise and a special treat. Keeping your pet distracted while they are having a potentially stressful procedure may help divert their attention.
Keep up the good work
After your pet has become well-accustomed and trained for trips to the vet, it is a good idea to continue trips to your vet. If your pet has been doing great at the vet and then suddenly, after a stressful visit, does an emotional backslide, don't worry! Just go over these tips and re-acquaint your pet with the different elements involved in vet visits. This will help your pet recover and learn to relax again and have worry-free visits.