Stress Free Veterinary Visits

by Meghan Vos

Visits to the vet can be stressful for pets and owners alike. This can lead to skipped wellness exams and overdue vaccines. The way we practice veterinary medicine has changed drastically over the recent years. Your pet’s mental health is important, and we have moved away from the idea of “wrangling” pets in favor of a lower stress style. 

One of the biggest challenges for most pets is being handled in ways that they are not accustomed to. You can help your pet by conditioning them to handling at home, especially their feet and ears. Dogs and cats commonly dislike nail trims or even having their feet touched. If they are properly conditioned and realize no harm will come from this type of handling, it will greatly reduce the stress of the veterinary examination. Ears can be another touchy area, particularly if the pet has had a painful ear infection. Practice handling these areas daily while giving treats to make it a positive experience. 

If transportation is stressful, work on conditioning your pet to the car or carrier to ease their fears. It is safest to transport your cat in a carrier so leave the carrier out in your home for a few days with some treats inside to make it a happy place. Consider crating your dog while in the vehicle to make them feel safe and secure. 

Something that many pet owners don’t realize is the effect that their emotional state has on their pets. If you are nervous, your pet will become nervous. Carry yourself with a confident and calm demeanor. Your pet will pick up on these calming signals and become less anxious. Consider using an OTC pheromone spray to help induce a sense of calm in your pet.

Some pets, even with consistent work, will still dread going to the vet. If your best efforts don’t seem to be working, reach out to your veterinarian to discuss the possibility of using a prescription anti-anxiety medication prior to appointments. These medications are frequently used to help pets have positive and stress-free visits.