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Posted on 02-05-2015
6 Tips for Low Stress Vet Visits:
A trip to visit the vet can be a stressful experience for you and your pet if you are not prepared for it. Luckily there are lots of ways for you to help your pets feel safe, calm and confident while interacting with veterinary team members:
Handling: The trick with teaching your pet to accept handling by veterinary staff is to start early. Spend lots of time handling every part of your puppy or kitten, especially the ears, paws and around the face. If teeth brushing or nail trims are going to be a regular occurrence for your pet then make it a part of their regular routine. For many pets the most stressful part of a vet visit is being held still for procedures such as having blood drawn. Make sure your pet is comfortable being held still by gently keeping them in one place while they stand or sit in a position that is easy for them. The best way to do this is to keep the practice session very relaxed as an unusual change in your behavior may make your pet anxious about what is about to happen. Make sure they get lots of positive reinforcement for remaining calm.
Make the crate a safe place: Many cats tend to only be put in their carriers during trips to the vet. This creates a situation where the anxiety levels of cats begin to rise long before they ever walk through the door at the animal hospital. It is important to teach cats that the carrier is a positive, comfortable place to spend their time. Begin by removing the top portion of the carrier and putting a nice comfy blanket in the bottom half to make a cozy bed. Keep the carrier bed in a place where your cat spends most of their time and allow them to get comfortable with it. You may also try enticing them by adding cat nip or well-loved toys to the mix. Once your cat is used to spending time in their bed try replacing the top half of the carrier and leaving the door open, allow your cat to get used to spending time in the carrier while being free to come and go as they please. Remember to keep the same blankets in the carrier when you leave for the vet as these will carry your cat’s scent and make them feel more at ease. If your cat is not comfortable being handled, but is ok in the carrier ask your vet if it is possible to just remove the top of the carrier and do the exam without ever having to move the cat.
Pheromone products: Many pet owners have helped their pets stay calm during vet visits by using products that contain natural comforting pheromones released by dogs and cats to make them feel more at ease. Adaptil (for dogs) and Feliway (for cats) are over the counter, drug free options for helping your pet relax. They come in a variety of forms that are each suitable for different situations. For more information about these products feel free to ask your give us a call (458-5944) or check out the products respective websites: www.feliway.com/us and www.adaptil.com/uk
Leash tips for dogs: When heading to the vet, having your dog on a leash system that works for both of you will keep your dog safe and make them feel more secure. Before leaving the house, make sure that your dog’s collar is tight enough that they will not be able to back out of it should they be startled. If your dog tends to get excited and pull on the leash a collar may only serve to increase anxiety by tightening around the neck. Harnesses that clip in the front are an excellent way to avoid this problem all together. Choose a leash that will keep your dog close to you and give you control over the situation, generally 4-6’ leashes are best. Retractable leashes are not recommended as they allow the dog to wander to close to other animals and leave you with little control over the situation. Training your dog to wear a head halter is another great way to maintain control and ensure that they enter the animal hospital in a safe, relaxed fashion.
Take a Tour of The Clinic: Pets can sense when their owners are stressed and often take cues from them as to how they should feel about a situation. Therefore, if you feel calm and comfortable about your veterinary visit your pet is more likely to feel that way too. If you are concerned that your pet will feel anxious at the vet try taking them in for a fun visit prior to your actual appointment. Ask the receptionist what time of day tends to be quieter then stop in with your pet and give them a chance to sniff around and get some lovin’ and treats from the staff. If you have concerns about surgery or your pet having to stay in a kennel while admitted for a procedure ask a staff member about booking time for a quick tour of the hospital so that you can see exactly where we work with our patients.
Avoid Stress Triggers: Many animals that become anxious and fearful at the vet have certain triggers that increase their stress level. If you have a cat make sure that you don’t put their carrier down facing another animal. It may seem nice to let them ‘say hi’, but coming face to face with a strange animal while trapped in a small space can be very stressful. If possible, try to set your cat’s carrier on a chair rather than the floor, or better yet ask the receptionist to move you in to a room where your kitty can come out of the carrier and familiarize itself with the space. If you have a dog that is overstimulated by being around other animals try letting the receptionist know when you arrive, then wait in the car until there is an exam room available for you and your dog to go straight into. Try not to pull on your dog’s leash or use a harsh tone of voice when giving commands as these behaviors will also add to your dog’s anxiety.
Dave Thompson said:
Every time I go to see the vet my dog gets stressed out, which in turn stresses me out. Like you suggest I will try to get my dog used to being in his cage for a longer period of time. That way when I put him in there to go to the vet he will be less likely to stress out. Not being stressed at the vet will be a welcome change of things for me as well. http://www.calgarytrailpet.com/