Academy Animal Hospital, Greenwood, Indiana
Stress is one of the top reasons pet owners avoid the vet. Visits can be unpleasant - for both the animal and the owner - depending on your pet’s level of comfort with the trip. In fact, one study found that “feline resistance” was the #1 reason that cat owners see a vet less than once a year.
But vet visits don’t have to be stressful. As you prepare for your next visit, try these tips for helping things go smoothly.
Stress Reduction Tip No. 1: Train for Transportation
If your pet resists the carrier or car, they may associate it with the stress of going to the vet’s office. A survey of cat owners found that 58% of them have a cat that hates the trip to the vet.
One way of handling this is to take your pet on additional trips that aren’t to the vet. Set out the carrier and allow your cat to become accustomed to it in day-to-day life.
Dogs often accept - or outright enjoy - riding in the car, but become anxious at the sight of the vet’s office. To help their anxiety, you can either build up to visits by driving to the vet’s office and not going in, or simply give them lots of petting and reassurance that everything will be okay.
Stress Reduction Tip No. 2: Schedule a Happy Visit
The sights, smells, and sounds of a vet’s office can be scary for your pet. They may associate these things with pain and fear from previous visits.
Ease their worries by scheduling a simple meet-and-greet visit with your vet, where nothing scary happens. Let your pet sniff around for a while, say hello to the vet, then give a treat as you leave. This builds a positive association with the vet and office.
Stress Reduction Tip No. 3: Use the Power of Touch
Some pets are very uncomfortable being touched, but touching is a part of almost any vet visit. Handle this proactively by helping your pet grow accustomed to human touch.
Remember, your pet won’t just be petted at the vet. It’s a good idea to familiarize them with these feelings too: full-body holding, carrying from area to area, and touching around ears, eyes, mouth, paws, and tails.
Stress Reduction Tip No. 4: Avoid Peak Times
For some pets, the waiting room is the worst part of the experience. Exposure to other animals might make them feel overwhelmed or threatened.
Your vet’s office may be able to help ease stress by scheduling your appointment during slower, quieter times at the office. Perhaps Thursday mornings are a time when few people and pets are usually in the waiting room. This might be a better time for your anxious pet.
Stress Reduction Tip No. 5: Bring a Favorite Toy
Just like a child who loves her doll, a pet can be comforted by a favorite toy. Bring it along during your visit.
In fact, pets can be comforted by anything that smells like home. If they don’t have a favorite toy, bring along a blanket or pillow from the living room. Some pets find comfort in the smell of an owner’s t-shirt or pillowcase.
Stress Reduction Tip No. 6: Set a Good Example
Have you ever noticed that veterinary workers tend to speak to animals in slow, sing-song-y, soothing tones? That’s because pets react better to soothing voices.
Your pet can feel your stress level, so it’s important to stay calm throughout the experience. If your demeanor is frazzled, your pet will pick up on your emotional cues. If you seem calm, your pet will feel calmer too.
By using these tips, you can keep your next vet visit as low-stress as possible. Connect with Academy Animal Hospital to create a comforting experience during your pet’s next visit.