Many pets would rather be anywhere but at the vet’s, because it can be a pretty scary place for them. From the minute they enter the clinic door, they are confronted by strange smells, unusual sounds and slippery floors. Not fun!
Going to the vet doesn’t have to be a scary event for you OR your pet, especially if you follow these tips for making visits a little less stressful (and even fun!).
Pointers for Pups or Kitties
- Remain calm at all times. Your pet trusts you more than anyone else on the planet, and he looks to you for cues. If you are stressed, your pet will be stressed, too. Use a calm, quiet voice and plenty of pats to help keep your pet relaxed.
- Don’t just go to the animal hospital for exams and sick visits. Stop by from time to time for no reason at all, so your pet sees that it can be a fun place to be. Have the staff say hello and treat your pet with a snack or a pat, and be on your way! Or, while you’re there, take an extra minute or two to have your pet step on a scale to make sure his weight is where it needs to be.
- Get your pet used to being handled, starting at a young age. Lift his lip to check out his teeth, peek into his ears and handle his feet often. This makes it easier for your veterinarian and staff to do a non-stressful exam.
- Never try to restrain your pet during his exam. Your veterinarian has trained staff for that. They know the best techniques to use for everyone’s safety.
Friendly Feline Fun
- Always bring your cat to the vet in a cat carrier. It’s simply not safe to carry your cat to the vet in your arms. If your cat is stressed at the mere sight of the carrier, it’s time to work on making it a safer place in the eyes of your cat. Leave the carrier out with a soft towel or blanket inside. Use treats to coax your cat into the carrier, and eventually, he’ll come and go as he pleases. If the only time your cat goes into the carrier is when he goes to the vet, of course he will associate it with scary times! Turn your cat’s carrier into a welcoming retreat, instead.
- Get a carrier with a door on top and on the front. The top-loading carriers make it easier for vets and their staff to get your cat out of the carrier if he doesn’t want to come out willingly.
- Withhold food for a couple of hours before traveling to lessen the nausea. Many cats get carsick.
- Once you’re safely in an exam room, open the carrier to allow your cat to come out and explore on his own terms (unless specifically told not to by the staff). Have plenty of treats ready to both coax your kitty out and treat him for good behavior.
- Use treats to reward your cat’s good behaviors in the clinic. If he’s not particularly food driven, use verbal praise and physical affection as substitutes for treats.
- Consider using feline pheromone sprays to make your cat feel more at ease. Spray a towel and place it in the carrier before you head out.
- Maintain control over your dog in the reception area, and do your best to keep him calm. Other pets in the lobby will feed off of your pet’s energy, and not all dogs and cats welcome advances from strange dogs.
- Never use a retractable leash at the vet. If it’s the only leash you have, lock it, or better yet, switch it out for one of your vet’s slip leashes.
- Take your dog for a walk prior to his visit. This will allow you to pick up a fresh fecal sample (if one is requested) and allow your dog to do his business somewhere other than the exam room floor. The exceptions to this tip, however, are cases when your vet will need to get a sterile urine sample. If this is the case, don’t allow your pet to urinate for a few hours before his visit.
- Reward your dog for his positive behavior, and do your best to ignore fearful behavior.
I think the vet’s office is a fun place to be, and I want your pet to think so, too!