Let’s face it, most people don’t look forward to a trip to the doctor, and our pets are no different. In addition to the poking and prodding, the fear of the unknown is probably the biggest hurdle your pet must conquer when visiting their friendly neighbourhood veterinarian. Keeping that in mind, Downhome has compiled these handy tips on how to help prep your furry friends for a visit to the vet.
A “Touching” Experience
While your pet is probably used to getting a pleasant pat on the back, a scratch behind the ears or a relaxing belly rub, getting a physical examination from a doctor is a whole other ballgame. The first thing a vet will probably do is check to see that your pet’s eyes, ears, teeth and toenails are healthy. If your pet is used to being touched around these areas, their first visit to the vet will be a much less harrowing experience.
Get your pet used to different people, places, things and other animals before the first vet visit. For younger pets, their first vet trip will often be their first time away from the familiar environment of home. However, if they’ve been exposed to new people and are used to being in places like elevators and noisy buildings, and being around loud appliances like hair dryers or vacuum cleaners, their first vet visit will be less scary. Also, trips to the park are great ways to socialize pets with other animals in a fun environment before visiting a busy vet clinic.
Do Your Research
Before you visit the vet, call the office ahead of time to see if your pet requires any specific tests, vaccinations, anesthesia or bloodwork. In some cases, it’s best to hold off on giving your pet food or treats until after the doctor’s visit.
Do a Dry Run
Pets who travel to the vet in a carrier should be well acquainted with their temporary home in advance of the visit. Take them for short drives to the park or other fun places, to get them used to the motion and to make positive associations with carrier travel. Make the space as comfortable as you can for them and spend some time helping them get cozy. Bring an extra blanket to line the inside, and perhaps another one to cover up the carrier once you’re inside the doctor’s office.
Ready Your Ride
Bring along a few of your pet’s favourite things like a blanket, toys or any other items that may help calm nervousness or quell fear. Having familiar things around offers a sense of comfort and home, so your pet can unwind a little.
Trick or Treat
Always make sure to have lots of water in your vehicle to help keep your pet hydrated. It’s also a good idea to have a few favourite treats on hand. After you’ve pulled into the parking lot, offer your pet one of the goodies for encouragement. If your pet behaves well during their visit, offer another treat afterwards as a reward. As pets associate visits to the vet with tasty treats, they’ll be even more cooperative during future visits.
“Voice” Your Support
A soothing and familiar voice can go a long way in helping to calm a distressed pet. Talk to your pet in a cheerful and calming tone before you leave the house, during the car ride, while you’re sitting in the waiting room and once you’re inside the vet’s office. Give your pet a treat once he or she has calmed down a bit, and be sure to keep those reassuring rubs coming.
Do Your “Doody”
Leave home a few minutes early so you’ll have time to take your pet for a quick stroll around the vet clinic property before you go inside. Also, take a handful of plastic bags with you so that you can pick up any “presents” your pet may leave outside and properly discard them.
Scope Out the Situation
Before you enter the waiting room with your pet, poke your head in to see what other animals are around. If you see an animal that might scare your pet, or that your pet might frighten, keep a safe distance and try to sit at the other end of the room if possible. If you have a nervous pet, try to find a quiet place to sit.
What keeps your pet calm at the vet? Share your suggestion by leaving a comment.