It’s a no-brainer: Visiting the vet improves their health and wellbeing.
But it can be stressful and time consuming for both you and your pet. so here's some tips to make it a stress-free and productive trip.
1. Give them space.
We’re all now aware of social distancing, and it makes sense to all animals not just from a transmission standpoint, but to avoid confrontation with pets or pet parents that may trigger anxiety.
2. Take a break beforehand.
Have a nice long sniffy walk with a toilet break with your dog. Time appointments with cats after their litter-tray visits (if they’re regular with these things).
3. Bring some smells from home.
Familiar toys, blankets or bedding can reassure them with the positive ‘feels’ they get when they’re at their most comfortable.
Keep things positive. Whether it be belly rubs, pats or praise, give them positive reassurances that tell them ‘this place is okay’. Treats are often helpful too, but don’t give too many, because your vet might want to use this tool in the consultation room.
4. Visit the vet to just say 'Hi'.
Particularly for dogs, desensitise them by popping in to smell the smells of the vet clinic, navigate the waiting room and get a pat and treat from the nice people who work there.
5. Calm is key.
Don’t have an intense play with your cat or run-about with your dog immediately before the visit. A high heart rate, tense muscles and being a coiled spring is no good during a health assessment.
6. Practice an examination at home.
When happy and in a positive frame-of-mind, try handling your pet as a vet or nurse would. Touch their paws, lift their lip, look and feel around ears and eyes and have a good pat down all over, provided they’re feeling safe and relaxed. When familiar with this type of interaction, they’ll be less reactive and more likely to stay still for your vet or nurse. Give them a reward afterward too.
7. Highlight any watch-outs to your vet team.
While they may know your pet from previous visits, they won’t be aware of any new sensitivities, painful spots or recent experiences which could affect their behaviour while visiting. Best to over-communicate than not.
All in all, it’s about being prepared for all occasions.
In highly stressful situations your vet team will share other ideas and may speak about calming medications, nutraceuticals or pheromones with you.
Given that a visit to the vet will benefit their health, it’s great to think about the experience holistically – from start to end - to ensure that they (and you) truly get what’s needed from your precious time with them.