The trick for a happy, stress-free trip to the veterinary clinic starts way before the actual day of the appointment. Here are 7 tips to keep your fur babies at ease when they have to visit the doctor.
- Get your dog used to the car. According to Dr. Cade Lavengco, DVM at Town Center Animal Hospital, “The best time to get a puppy used to a car ride is when they are young. This is the time where motion sickness could be prevented for life. Most puppies will get motion sickness at a young age but exposing them early could prevent a life-long problem.” Plus, if the only time your pup sees the inside of a vehicle is on trips to the vet, chances are he’s not going to eagerly hop in the backseat. If car rides mean trips to the park, visits to your favorite coffee shop for Puppiccinos, and shopping trips to the pet supply store to pick out a new toy, your pooch won’t hightail it out of the garage.
- A bit of a backseat driver, your kitty will probably travel in a crate. If you only take the crate out when it’s time for a vet visit, your kitty is likely to snow-angel the moment the crate comes into view. Leave the crate out so the kitty can get used to the smell and put some treats in there so when they decided to explore, they get a bonus.
- Get your fur baby used to being handled. The more your dog or cat gets snuggled, belly rubbed, scratched, and has their paws and tail played with, the easier it will be for your vet to examine them without incident.
- Pack a toy. You wouldn’t expect a toddler to sit quietly in a waiting room without any entertainment, so why a pet? Bring an especially intriguing toy for your pet so they have something to keep them distracted. You can also pack a shirt or blanket that smells like you. This will keep your pet calm during the wait and can be put on the exam table to relax them during the appointment.
- Stay calm. Animals pick up on the moods and emotions of their human counterparts. If you are anxious, upset, or frightened, your fur baby will be too. Take a deep breath, speak calmly, and remember that they will mirror your state.
- If you have a particularly anxious or aggressive pet, ask the staff ahead of time if they use “fear-free handling techniques”. Sometimes, the less restraint used on an animal, the calmer they will be. A pet who is tied down like Hannibal Lecter might get a tad antsy.
- Consider using essential oils or pheromones for increased relaxation. Lavender oil is known to be quite relaxing for dogs and there are products designed for cats that can keep anxiety at bay. This can be sprayed on the carrier, blankets, or your pup’s collar.
Going to the vet doesn’t have to be a traumatizing experience for your pets or for you. Start prepping today and your fur babies can be happy & stress-free.
Sheryl Green is an author, writing coach, and passionate animal advocate, serving as the Director of Communications and Cuddling for Hearts Alive Village Las Vegas. Find her at www.sherylgreenspeaks.com.