Is your pet nervous about his or her trip to the vet? Do they bark excessively, tremble, or whine as soon as you pull into the parking lot? Here are some tips to make sure your pet's check-up goes smoothly.
1. Don't wait until the day of the visit to get your pet used to a carrier.
If you only use a pet carrier to come to the vet, your pet may associate the carrier with a stressful trip to the doctor. Instead, use your pet's carrier in their everyday life. Leave their carrier open and where they can access it at all times. Try feeding your pet meals in their carrier on a daily basis so that it becomes routine to go in and out. This way, when it is time to pack them up and head out, they may not fight you as bad since they are used to their crate.
2. Use their sense of smell to your advantage!
Pets see the world through their sense of smell! Try diffusing essential oils such as lavender in your home or car before you leave to help them relax. You may also try pheromone sprays such as Adaptil or Feliway to help reduce stress. Ask your veterinarian about these products before your next visit.
3. Don't encourage bad behavior.
It can be hard to see your pet struggle when they are restrained for nail trims or vaccines, but it is important that they aren't taught it is alright to act that way. Resist the urge to baby talk or soothe them when they are lashing out, as this behavior will get worse with each visit. Instead, let your technicians handle the situation- they are trained for this!
4. Bring treats!
Does your pet have a favorite snack? Bring it! Giving your pet a high-value reward for toughing through hard situations may make them easier. Are they sitting good in the lobby? Treat! Are they holding still for their nail trim? Another treat. Bring a bag of small pieces and let the staff offer treats as well so they appear less threatening.
5. Take your time.
Don't schedule a veterinary visit on a day that you have a lot of other activities planned. Pick a day where you have free time before and after your appointment. If your dog or cat seems hesitant, arrive a few minutes earlier to go slow as you enter the building. Let your vet staff know that you don't mind going slow- they will appreciate the opportunity to gauge your pet's stress and work to make their visit as comfortable as possible.
6. Take a deep breath.
Our pets know when we're stressed. Before your visit, make sure that you're calm as well. Don't expect the worst and have confidence when you arrive. Pets are followers and may do better when led by example.
7. Make trips to the vet when you don't have an appointment.
Ask your veterinarian about social visits. Most will let you stop by when you don't need to be seen just so your pet can be loved on. This way, they may start to associate the vet with a place of enjoyment instead of a place of fear. They can walk in, get a treat, and be on their way.