Visits to the Vet: What to Do for Anxious Pets

by on February 1st, 2011 at 11:39 am

Since many pet owners view their cats, dogs, and other animals as members of the family, trying to keep them feeling healthy and secure are of top importance. Most of the time, you can control the everyday factors that may cause your pet to become fearful, but sometimes there are harder to control situations that force your pet to leave his or her comfort zone.

For instance, the occasional necessary trip to the vet can cause a lot of distress in many pets, but there are a few things you can do to help mitigate your pet’s anxiety.

Preparing your pet

Your pet is likely very keen to picking up on the ‘signs’ that things are changing around the household. Do you recall the last time you were packing for a trip and how your pet reacted? Dogs may display signs of separation anxiety, as they may feel like they will be left behind. Cats may become more clingy or more distant, depending on their disposition.  In this situation, you’re able to soothe your pet prior to your departure.

However, for a visit to the vet, there is often no ‘prep’ time on your part that is visible to your pet, and most of your pet’s anxiety tends to come out upon arrival at the vet’s office. This is especially true for dogs, who often welcome a ‘fun’ car ride, oblivious to the destination.

Establishing a soothing, calm routine for vet visits can help take the stress out of the situation for both of you.

  • Avoid feeding your pet for a few hours prior to the appointment.
  • Try and make sure your pet gets some exercise prior to a visit to expend any excess energy.
  • Take your pet on a walk before the visit to avoid any accidents in the waiting room.
  • Even if you don’t typically crate your dog or cat before a car ride, it’s a good idea to do so for visits to help minimize other distractions plus contain your pet if he or she were to become unmanageable. You can also include a favorite toy or other soothing item.
  • When booking the appointment, let the receptionist know in advance that your pet has difficulty with visits and see if the office can make any special accommodations.
  • Try natural remedies. Two well-known herbs such as Scutellaria laterifolia and Passiflora incarnata help to soothe the nervous system and promote a calming, relaxed effect for pets. Homeopathic ingredients such as Kalium phosphate and Argentum nitricum maintain balance and harmony within the nervous system, and promote digestive health. NOTE: Check with your vet prior to administering any conventional or natural remedies before an appointment.

At the appointment

Upon arrival, check the waiting room prior to entering. If the room is especially crowded or your pet seems to be very excited or aggressive, call the receptionist to see if you can wait with your pet outside until he or she would be called in to see the vet, or enter through a side door away from other animals.

Even if your pet is behaving reasonably upon arrival, keep your pet contained. If you have your dog on a leash and not in a carrier, keep him or her reigned in close to you.

After the appointment

Reward your pet with a special treat to help create a positive reinforcement experience, rather than solely a negative association with visiting the vet.

PetCalm is a homeopathic remedy that soothes fear and nervousness during stressful situations and everyday disturbances

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