If your pets are like mine, the minute you pull into the vet’s office parking lot you can see the look of betrayal on your best friend’s face. The look is heart-wrenching. What if there was a way to get your pets excited about being there? Well, maybe not excited, but at least not scared to death. That would be a huge improvement, right? Believe it or not, there are steps you can take to keep the trauma to a minimum, and maybe even eliminate it altogether. You can help prepare your pet for a stress-free visit by remaining calm yourself and knowing what to expect.
Cats and dogs have an incredible memory, and if they are mishandled, they will remember and will become fearful at subsequent visits. There is a new push for “fear free visits” among vets. Vets have realized it is best for everyone involved to be respectful to the pets. Your vet should take the time to get to know each pet individually. It does not take a lot of effort. When my vet comes into the room she always gets on the floor with the dog to pet and talk to him. My vet then discusses the nature of the visit with me while stroking my dog.
While “shopping” for a vet, I always looked for a vet who would use as little restraint as possible with the idea of the safety of the veterinary staff as a priority. If you have a very anxious pet there are medications that can be administered prior to the visit. Your vet should try to avoid painful or stressful procedures without sedation. There are so many safe and effective drugs now that can “twilight sedate” your animal to eliminate the stress. Some are even reversible so that the animal will be totally awake in minutes. Nail trims have done more harm striking fear in dogs at vet visits than anything else. Some dogs could care less and will even let you use a Dremel tool to file down their nails. Others think you are trying to kill them! You can manhandle the majority of these dogs, but should you? No. Sedation could make it a positive experience for everyone.
Finally, taking your pet in for a “happy visit,” where the dog comes in to meet the doctor and staff and gets pampered is a great way to introduce a pet in a stress-free environment. The next time he comes into the office for a visit he is familiar with the people and
the surroundings. So, instead of dreading the next check-up, talk to your vet about the best way to go “fear free.”