You are concerned about your pet’s upcoming veterinary visit because you know how anxious and upset they get in the clinic. You realize routine veterinary care is crucial to their welfare, but the stress caused by the visit is troublesome. The team at Stack Veterinary Hospital wants to offer tips to help ensure your next veterinary visit is stress-free.

#1: Do not let your pet know you are anxious

Your pet is sensitive to your moods and emotions and will pick up on your anxiety and become anxious themselves. Prepare everything you need for the veterinary visit in advance, so you are not rushing around nervously at the last minute. While en route to the hospital, and throughout the visit, calmly talk to your pet in your normal voice and avoid excessive petting. Your relaxed demeanor will signal to your pet that everything is normal.

#2: Practice handling your pet

Your pet may like a good belly rub or chin scratch, but their ears are off-limits. Many pets are averse to their ears and feet being handled, especially by a stranger, which can make nail trims and ear inspections for infection difficult. By manipulating their ears and handling their feet on a regular basis, your pet will learn that this is normal behavior, and be more likely to accept the procedures at the veterinarian’s office. Offering high value treats when you begin the process will help your pet associate these actions with positive rewards. If you have a young pet, begin handling them as soon as possible. Look in their ears and mouth, pick up and manipulate their toes, and touch their legs, chest, belly, and tail. This conditioning will make the veterinarian’s examination much easier for all involved.

#3: Make the carrier your pet’s friend

If the only time your pet sees their carrier is when they are going to the veterinarian, they will likely run when they see the carrier come out. Leave the crate out for them to investigate. Place their favorite toy and clothing you have worn recently inside. Feed them treats while they are hanging out in the crate. These steps can make their carrier a safe zone for your pet.

#4: Take your pet for fun visits to the veterinarian

No wonder your pet does not enjoy veterinary visits if they only go when they are sick or need shots. Take them in to meet the staff at Stack Veterinary Hospital for a nice, needle-free visit. Bring their favorite treats and let our team spoil them with snacks and belly rubs. Your pet will be much more inclined to want to visit the veterinarian if they associate the hospital with good experiences.

#5: Schedule your pet’s appointment early in the morning

A veterinarian’s day rarely goes according to schedule. Wellness exams may discover issues that need further diagnostics, and emergencies may need immediate attention. The later in the day your pet’s appointment, the more likely their scheduled time will be delayed. Ask for the day’s first time slot to avoid waiting longer than necessary. Currently, our COVID regulations require you to wait in your car with your pet until a team member comes to assist you, which is actually beneficial for nervous pets, because they avoid waiting with other stressed and excited pets.

#6: Bring your pet to the appointment hungry

A hungry pet is more motivated by treats. Skip breakfast and bring their favorite treats to reward their good behavior and to distract them during unpleasant procedures. Reward your pet frequently throughout the visit. Offer treats in the exam room, while the veterinary team is handling them, when the exam is finished, and when you leave the office. This reinforces that the veterinary hospital is a place where treats abound.

#7: Bring your pet’s favorite items

Bring along your pet’s favorite toys to entertain them during the visit. If they have a treasured snuggle blanket, bring the blanket to provide a familiar, reassuring presence.

#8: Inform our staff if your pet is extremely anxious

The team at Stack Veterinary Hospital is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, and we practice appropriate low-stress techniques with all pets. However, if we know that your pet is extremely anxious, we will take extra precautions to move slowly, approach them calmly from the side, and respect their space.

#9: Consider calming supplements and medications for your pet

Commercial pheromones are available that can help reduce stress in some pets. These products can be sprayed on a blanket draped over your pet’s carrier, or on their leash and collar. If your pet becomes aggressive during their veterinary visits, a mild sedative may be necessary. Never administer a supplement or medication to your pet without speaking to a veterinary professional. 

You want to make your pet’s veterinary experience as stress free as possible, to ensure they continue getting the care they need. If you would like to discuss your pet’s anxiety issues, or schedule an appointment, contact the team at Stack Veterinary Hospital.