Just as we may sometimes be nervous about visiting the doctor, your pet may feel a little apprehensive about a visit to the vet’s office. In choosing a vet that you are comfortable with, you can feel confident in your pet’s comfort, too. When it comes time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, there are additional steps you can take to help make the experience a positive one right from the start and alleviate their stress.
The first step to an easy vet visit is to make your pet comfortable before going anywhere near the office. Animal Planet’s Pets 101 blog suggests developing a calm pre-vet routine, which includes regular at-home check ups to get them used to being handled, practice trips in the car or carrier and plenty of love and affection.
The journey itself can be stressful especially for cats, who often see the car as an unpredictable and unfamiliar place. Try taking them out for short drives around the block, and work your way up to longer trips or even an unscheduled visit to your vet just to say hello to some staff. As the anxiety of uncertainty lessens, so will your cat’s overall concern for car trips.
For dogs, the car trip may be a piece of cake… that is until you pull into the vet’s parking lot. So why not make the vet a place where your dog can have some fun? Pet Trainer Victoria Stilwell of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog suggests that you spend some time playing with your pet upon arrival, perhaps outside the building, so they can come to associate the vet’s office as a place where fun things happen, too!
Once you’ve entered the lobby, you and your pet might encounter other pets and their waiting humans. It’s important first for you to remain calm, as your pet will feed off your emotions. Although it is impossible to predict who or what you will encounter in a waiting area, you can request to schedule an appointment at your vet’s least busy times to help minimize exposure. While you’re waiting, talk to your pet in a calm voice to help keep them relaxed and focused on you. For a dog, you might also consider bringing a small towel or yoga mat from home for them to sit on, so they have their own familiar-smelling space in which to wait.
Remember, most vets will take the time to break the ice a bit with your pet once the visit begins. A few minutes of casual interaction will make your pet more at ease, as will the continued presence of a towel or toy that they are familiar with. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet for additional recommendations if you feel concerned for your cat or dog’s comfort. Preparation and open communication can lead to a healthy, happy relationship between you, your vet, and your pet.