Even the most calm, even-tempered dogs and cats, along with their humans, can feel stress when visiting the veterinarian. Past studies have revealed stress as a major factor in people not taking pets, specifically cats, to a veterinarian. To keep pets healthy and happy, reducing stress rather than avoiding the veterinarian is imperative.
Doctor visits and medical procedures are often stressful for us humans. Unlike our pets, we can ease much of our trepidation through communication. When visiting their veterinarian, pets can be confused or haunted by past traumatic experiences. They are at the mercy of their humans without being able to ask questions and receive answers about what’s happening to them and why it’s necessary.
Several practices can help you make visits to the veterinarian as least stressful as possible for your pet. While it’s beneficial to begin employing these tactics at any time, it’s important to begin as soon as possible with your pet, ideally from the time they are puppies and kittens.
Get your pet used to being handled and touched. Without force, touch and pet their paws, ears, bellies, and mouths. Pick up cats hold them, making sure to support them properly. Be slow and gentle and start with just a few moments at a time. Beginning a teeth-brushing routine will also help pets get comfortable with having their mouths handled.
For cats, don’t make the crate only about doctor visits. Keep their crates out and open so they can get familiar with them under normal circumstances. Encourage them to spend time in the crate with positive reinforcement such as treats, catnip, and playtime inside and around the crate. This will lessen the fight when it comes time to transport them and it discourages cats from thinking of the crate as a terror device.
Once your cat is comfortable in their crate, get them comfortable being in your vehicle and taking rides. For both dogs and cats, start taking short trips around the block. Reward them with treats after. Drive your pup to a nearby park for some play. This will get your pet used to the car and allow them to associate it with something positive.
Many people have had success with pheromone sprays and diffusers in calming their pets. Use diffusers in the home before your scheduled visit. Spray pheromones inside crates and on towels placed in and over the crate.
At the Clinic
The waiting room, filled with strange humans and animals, can be a stressor for some pets. Keep dogs leashed and close by your side while in the waiting area, and give them plenty of encouraging rubs. Cover crates with towels to shield cats from other patients. Bring along a favorite toy or small blanket for comfort and treats for rewards. For those extra anxious pets, talk to the clinic staff about possibly waiting outside or in the car, if weather allows.
Pets can sense our feelings. They take cues from our behaviors and emotions. If you’re anxious, it doesn’t instill confidence in them. Take deep breaths, speak calmly, and project positivity.
In many cases, it can be difficult to eliminate stress when visiting the veterinarian. By using the above practices, you can reduce anxiety and make these visits as easy for pets as possible. For your pet’s health and happiness, along with your peace of mind, begin as early as you can and be consistent.