All animals need an annual vet visit just as humans need their check-up with the doctor. Still, many pet owners would agree that going to the vet is one of the worst experiences for their pet. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube that show dogs shaking in their harnesses or cats frantically meowing at the veterinarian’s office. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are steps people can take to keep their pet as cool as a cucumber.
1. Use the proper carrier First, understand that much of the anxiety pets experience has to do with the travel to the vet’s office. Start with finding the right carrier to use every time. The carrier should not be too small, and it should be easy to clean. Pet owners should not have to pull their pet from the carrier to get it outside. Get the pet used to the carrier before the vet visit. Try placing it around the pet’s sleeping area or play area, and reward your pet when it goes inside.
2. Pet-proof your vehicle
Next, make sure your car is pet-friendly. The interior should be resistant to sharp claws, and a material that is easy to clean. Some cars are better at blocking outside noise, which helps the animal keep calm. Don’t pick the vet’s appointment date as the first time the animal goes on a car ride. Instead, try taking the pet around the block a few times in their carrier or strapped into a seat belt for larger breeds. Pet owners can take it a step further and visit the vet’s office before the appointment, so the animal can get used to the area.
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3. Comfort your animal
Once inside the waiting room, work to keep your pet calm with all the new sights and smells. This begins by finding a spot away from other animals and having your pet facing you. Try placing a towel over the carrier if an animal still seems anxious. Or for larger pets, try going through commands and give them treats. Just like a kid playing with toys, dogs and cats benefit from being distracted while they wait. In extreme cases, ask the veterinarian if you can wait in the car until it is their turn.
4. Warn the vet’s office
Make sure to let the vet’s office know if a pet is particularly anxious. Many are willing to work with pet owners to make the visit as smooth as possible. It helps to bring a blanket or the pet’s favorite toy along. There are also chemical pheromones owners can give to their pets to help them calm down. Try a D.A.P. Diffuser for dogs, or Feliway for cats. Some pets may also benefit from anxiety vests that rely on using pressure to reduce stress.
5. Be mindful of your own state of mind
Going to the vet is not just stressful for pets. A study done by collaboration between Bayer Animal Health and Brakke Consulting found that 28 percent of dog owners and 40 percent of cat owners are stressed just thinking about the vet. What most people don’t realize is their stress can rub off on their pet. Be mindful of your own attitude before the visit. Coming prepared can help reduce stress and make everything go smoothly.
6. Rest and relax
After the visit, give the pet plenty of time to relax and recuperate. Give them water, and monitor them if they have taken a new medication. Also, don’t forget to run through the preparation routine again the next time.