Going to the veterinarian can be an intimidating experience for a pet, whether it is their first visit or they’ve learned over time what awaits them at the end of a car ride. However, there are ways to calm your pet and teach them that the vet’s office is nothing to fear. Ready to learn how?
1. Take A Drive
Whether or not you are going to the veterinarian, some pets find riding in a car scary, and some even get car sick. If you want to have one less stressor when it’s time to visit the vet, practice taking your pet on car rides. Take short rides at first, end at fun destinations where they can run and play, and give your pet special treats or toys that they’ll associate with being in the car. If your pet suffers from car sickness, you can try withholding food before a ride or have them lie down in a crate or carrier where they will feel safe and comfortable.
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2. Visit Before The Visit
One thing that makes the vet’s office intimidating is that it is a new environment filled with unfamiliar people and smells. To deal with this problem, you should socialize your pet, and one way to do this is to visit the vet’s office at times when your pet won’t be having an examination or receiving shots. Walk your pal in, let them sniff around, say hello to the vet and some strangers, and munch on some treats. Before you know it your pet will feel right at home.
3. Play Doctor
If your pet has never had a thorough once-over, a pair of hands in their mouth, ears, and paws may give them a fright. Practice examining your pet at home, but make it a pleasant experience. Run a finger over your pet’s gums, then offer them a treat. Lift up one of their ears and look inside, then throw a favorite toy. Feel in between your pet’s paw pads, clip their nails, then give them a tasty morsel. Keep practicing, and soon your pet will learn that being handled is not only perfectly safe, it also comes with rewards.
4. Lead By Example
Pets pick up on our attitudes and behaviors, and if you are feeling anxious before or at a vet visit, your pet is likely to notice and feel anxious, too. Your anxiety tells them that something is wrong, and that they should be looking out for danger. Before and at the vet’s office, try to have a calm demeanor. Practice deep breathing, listen to soothing music on the way there, and have a cup of chamomile tea if it will help. Your pet will feel a lot more calm and comfortable if they see that you are calm and comfortable, too.
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5. Conquer The Waiting Room
Barking dogs, hissing cats, anxious owners, strange smells — the waiting room can be a very frightening place for a pet. But there are ways to handle it. Before taking your pet inside, always make sure that they’ve had a chance to use the bathroom; a pet who has to “go” may act like an anxious toddler. If you have a dog, put them on a leash and offer them a treat before walking through the door. Once inside, have them sit close by and offer them treats, a chew, or a favorite toy. If you have a cat, it’s best to keep them in a comfortable carrier. If you know that loud, high-pitched greetings set your pet off, ask other pet parents to refrain. Stay calm, and if you notice that things are getting a little hectic, you can always take your pet outside for a short break.
6. Easygoing Exam
When they call your pet’s name, lead your pal confidently back to the exam room, and offer a treat once inside. When your vet arrives and begins doing their thing, you can keep feeding your pet treats, give them a chew or toy, or offer a gentle touch. Most vets will allow you to stay right next to your pet the entire time. It is also helpful if your pet knows some basic commands, like sit, stay, lie down, and watch me. When it’s time for vaccination shots, ask your pet to lie down, offer them a treat, and then ask them to watch you. Your pet will feel more at ease if their eyes are on you and not on the needle.
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Have any other techniques for calming your pet before or at the vet? Leave a comment below and let us know!