Can Cat Videos Make You A Nicer, Healthier Person?

If you’ve had the internet longer than 5 minutes, you are aware that a large chunk of the content that gets uploaded and shared every day is comprised of adorable cat videos. In case you hadn’t heard, here is a prime example.

Now how did that make you feel? Maybe a little less stressed out? Odds are that watching this adorable kitty play around ended up lifting your spirits a bit, helping you forget about whatever else might be eating at you. In fact, scientists recently witnessed that watching cat videos can actually make people feel happier, less anxious, and even more energetic.

Not feeling it yet? Have another!

The study, conducted by Jessica Gall Myrick at Indiana University, took a poll of some 7,000 people, asking them where, when, and why they watch cat videos. And the responses were probably what you would have expected.

On the whole, participants reported watching 2-3 cat videos a week, most often after seeing them on Facebook, Buzzfeed, or some other viral content powerhouse. More often than not, the participants stated that they did not, in fact, seek out the video themselves, but simply clicked a link that popped up on their screen.

Like this!

The study also asked participants how they felt before and after viewing a cat video. Again, the results are likely what you would have already assumed: participants that were in a good mood (energetic and generally contented) tended to stay that way, while participants that were in a bad mood (depleted, anxious, annoyed, sad, or guilt-ridden) noted some relief from these negative feelings.

That got a little technical. Here, have another cat video.

To be fair, this could be viewed as science confirming something we had known for a long time, but having empirical evidence to support our long-felt beliefs never hurt.

It does make perfect sense – people tend to consume media that either helps them maintain a state of happiness or pull them out of a funk. And what better way to do that than watch a goofy furball mess around and do silly cat stuff?

So, with that being said, here is a solid hour of non-stop adorable cat antics. Enjoy!

Myrick, Jessica. “Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches Internet cats, why, and to what effect?”  Elsevier. 52 (2015): 168-176. Print.


6 Dog Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

Dog with American Flag

While we just talked about this topic with Sam’s post on Tuesday, the topic of dogs and the 4th of July is a hot one, so we’re revisiting some points and introducing a couple new ones.

Loud noises. Big crowds. Flashing lights in the sky. Leftovers from barbeques. The Fourth of July is a great day for families and friends all across America, but can be challenging for your dog. Find out six simple ways you can ensure a healthy, happy, anxiety-free day for your pup.


1. Food Safety During Barbeques

Whether or not you allow your dog to eat human food is likely a decision you’ve made a long time ago. But food at a barbeque can be particularly dangerous for dogs: alcohol is always a no-no, but so are the onions you’re having on your burger, the avocado in your guacamole, and the bones that might be in grilled chicken. Be sure to let your friends know not to share food with your pet.

RELATED STORY: The Most Poisonous Foods for Dogs


2. Prepare for Loud Noises

If you know — or suspect — that your dog doesn’t like loud noises, plan ahead. Make sure your pet has a safe spot in the house to hang out, cover up the noises if possible, and provide your pet with a Thundershirt or other swaddle-like outfit.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Dealing with Dogs Scared of Loud Noises


3. Don’t Bring Your Dog to the Fireworks

The crowds of people, loud crash of the fireworks exploding, and unexpected flashes of light are hard on your dog. We recommend that you leave dogs safely at home. It’s easy for a dog to panic, run away, get lost, or generally freak out during fireworks. Since it’s not a pleasant activity for pets, leaving them at home is both the kindest and the safest option.


4. Definitely Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car

If for some reason, leaving your dog at home is not an option, it would be preferable to bring your dog with you rather than leaving your dog alone in the car. During the heat of the summertime, leaving your dog in the car — even with the windows cracked open — is unsafe.

RELATED STORY: 5 Must-Read Safety Tips for Pets in Hot Weather


5. Make Home Cozy for Your Pet

If your dog will be home alone while you’re out celebrating Independence Day, or even if you’ll be around, make your house into a comfortable environment for your pet. For crate-trained dogs, the crate can be the most comforting place to ride out the wild night. Close the curtains to help block out the lights from the fireworks, and think about leaving the television on, or playing music for an audio distraction. Make sure that all doors and windows are closed — even a normally placid pup can have an urge to escape when confronted a the fear-inducing situation.


6. Be Careful With Sunscreen and Bug Spray

What’s good for you isn’t necessarily OK for your pet. Don’t give your pet a spritz of bug spray, and avoid using sunscreen for people on their fur. As well, citronella and lighter fluid can also be dangers for dogs, so make sure to keep those items far away from your pup.

RELATED STORY: Top Mosquito-Borne Illnesses


PetPlus isa new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. Is it right for you and your dog?


5 Tips for Comforting Dogs Scared of Loud Noises

Dogs Scared of Loud Noises

For dogs scared of loud noises, summer can be a frightening season. Thunderstorms abound by day. The ‘pop-pop-pop’ of fireworks can startle us at night.

Why are dogs scared of loud noises?


All these loud and unpredictable noises may be tough for your dog to take. If the sounds of the season make your pet skittish, they are not alone — many dogs get fearful, anxious, and unsettled during fireworks, storms, and in the moments leading up to a storm’s arrival.

There are simple strategies — some done in advance, and some enacted when the storm strikes — that can help quell your dog’s fears and allow them to endure the noises with relative ease.

1. Swaddle Your Dog

For dogs scared of loud noises, some dogs may benefit from feeling snuggled in a blanket or from wearing a swaddle-like garment. One popular choice is the Thundershirt, which provides a calming pressure on your dog’s body. Or try a calming collar, which is also aimed at soothing pets in tense moments. Whatever garment you choose, putting it on as the storm approaches and your dog’s anxiety heightens can help ease your dog’s storm-related stress especially if they’re dogs scared of loud noises.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pet Emergency Preparedness

2. Have a Safe Comfort Zone in Your Home

Whether it’s a crate, your bathtub, or under the bed, your dog may already gravitate toward a safe, comforting spot in your home. If so, allow your dog that comfort during a storm’s buildup, or when the fireworks boom. Just keep in mind that this is meant to help your dog, so if your dog dislikes their crate or whines when stuck in small places, ignore this advice. Make sure to keep the crate and any room doors open so that if you pet does become uncomfortable, it’s easy for them to run and hide.

RELATED ARTICLE: A Guide to Dog Crates and Collars

3. Cover Up the Noises

Consider using a white noise machine, playing music, or going into a remote area of your home like the basement, far from outside noises, to help obscure the sounds of thunder or fireworks. Even turning on the TV or the radio can help to distract dogs scared of loud noises.

4. Distract, Distract, Distract

Just as you might look away when you’re getting a shot, distractions can help take your dog’s mind off of the loud noises. Try playing games indoors — tug of war or tossing around stuffed animals or soft balls could be all the distraction your dog needs from the storm.

5. Get Dogs Accustomed to Loud Noises

This won’t work day-of, but you can try planning ahead and slowly getting your dogs desensitized to loud noises. Try playing the sounds of thunder and firecrackers at a low volume, while providing your dog with positive reinforcement in the form of cuddles and treats. Over the course of days or weeks, gradually raise the volume slightly, being certain to stop playing the track when your dog becomes anxious. With exposure, it’s possible that your dog will become accustomed to the noise and realize that nothing scary or threatening will occur.

COMMUNITY CONVERSATION: My Dog Is Terrified During Thunderstorms. What Should I do?

Tell us: Does your dog get skittish from loud noises? Share your tips in the comments! And don’t forget that all pets can benefit from PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.



Why Is My Dog Afraid of Animals All The Time?


Why Is Your Dog Afraid Of Animals?

A dog’s fear of other animals can have a big impact on their life, and your life too. Some dogs are afraid of all animals. Other dogs are only afraid of unfamiliar animals. And still others are afraid of certain species: many dogs are afraid of cats!

The way your dog shows fear will depend on your particular dog. Some dogs exhibit classic fear behaviors: tail tucking, trembling, panting, lip licking, trying to escape, whining, and hiding. Other dogs respond to fear by becoming aggressive. Rather than waiting for an attack to happen, they go on the defense and growl, bark, lunge, or bite.

RELATED STORY: Reading Dog Body Language

Clearly, a dog’s fear of other animals can be dangerous. A dog who is afraid and exhibiting fear behaviors could become a target for other animals. A dog who becomes aggressive when afraid may hurt other animals or people.

So what causes a dog to become afraid of other animals, and what can you do to help!

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a dog becoming afraid of other animals:

  • Lack of regular exposure to other animals: Even if you socialize your dog early, they may still become fearful if they do not have regular continued exposure to other animals.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some dogs are just born more anxious or timid. In many cases, these are traits passed on by the parents. So even if your dog is well-socialized, they may still tend to be fearful of other animals.
  • Traumatic event involving another animal: If a young dog gets into a fight with another dog at a young age and is badly injured, they may live to fear all dogs. In some cases, a dog may even become fearful if an animal was near them when something frightening happened, even if the animal was not directly involved.
  • Unknown cause: In some cases, you may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your dog’s fear.

RELATED STORY: How We Misunderstand Dog Aggression

What to Do if Your Dog Is Afraid of Other Animals

The first thing to do is correctly identify your dog’s fear of animals. Some pet parents mistake their dog’s fear for aggression and will punish or yell at their dog when it growls or barks at other animals, thus making the dog more afraid and their future reactions to animals worse.

So first things first: study your dog’s behavior and try to find the source of the problem.

Once your correctly identify your dog’s fear, you can go from there:

  • Manage your dog’s behavior: especially if your dog becomes aggressive when afraid. Keep your dog on a leash, stay a good distance from other people and animals, and stay calm. If you grip the leash tighter or tense up when another animal turns the corner, your dog will notice and tense up, too.
  • Do not punish your dog for being afraid: again, it can only make the problem worse. On that same note, you should not constantly reassure your dog when they are afraid. Your dog will not understand and may only become more anxious.
  • Do not force your dog to be around other animals if they are afraid. Many pet parents think that they can fix their dog’s problem by forcing exposure to other animals, and if the dog has never acted aggressive before, what’s the harm? The problem is that forcing a dog into an uncomfortable situation can actually increase their fear, and even if you’ve never seen it before, there is a good chance the dog could respond with aggression.
  • You may need the help of a trainer or animal behaviorist to correct your dog’s fear. Desensitization and counter-conditioning training — in which you to teach your dog that good things rather than bad things happen around other animals — can be very successful, but challenging to carry out.

Is your dog afraid of other animals? Leave a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.



The Top 5 Dog Separation Anxiety Tips


When you leave your home to head to the office, do the sounds of your dog’s whines, barks, and howls follow you out the door? If your dog feels down when he has to spend the day alone, try these tips to make it easier for you to leave, and to help keep your dog entertained while you’re away.

Here are our top 5 dog separation anxiety tips.

1. Tire ‘Em Out

Take your dog for a long walk, a quick jog, or a game of tug of war or fetch. A tired dog will rest and nap for much of the day, and will have an easier time with your departure.

2. Distract When You Leave

For many dogs, being alone during the day is just fine, but that moment when you depart can provoke anxiety. If that’s the case for your dog, make it your mission to provide a delicious distraction during that distressing moment. A food-filled toy like a kong will keep your pup occupied while you ease out the door.

RELATED STORY: Is Your Dog Suffering From Separation Anxiety

3. Hire a Dog Walker

Especially when they’re young, a full day is a long time for a dog to spend alone. Hire a dog walker to come by in the middle of the day. Not only will your dog get a bathroom break, but they’ll also enjoy some social time.

4. Provide Tons of Toys

Avoid having chewed-up slippers and remote controls: Provide your dog with plenty of stuffed animals, chew toys, and other doggy delights to keep them occupied while you’re away. Get new toys occasionally so they don’t get bored, and leave an assortment of toys readily available each day.

5. Give Your Dog Something to Watch

What’s your dog going to do all day long while you’re gone? There’s napping, eating, playing — but maybe your dog needs a few more distractions and entertainment options. Think about leaving the television on (maybe to a nature program), having a fish tank, or setting up a bird feeder in your backyard to provide something interesting for your dog to watch. These dog anxiety tips have helped us at PetPlus before and we hope they’ll help you too!



Is Your Dog Bored? 5 Dog Jobs Your Dog Can Do

Dogs are meant to live active lives. Dog jobs keep that activity alive. Their wild ancestors spent the majority of their time hunting and scavenging, and over time domesticated breeds began working alongside humans in hunting, farming, and protection capacities.

Today, many dogs live sedentary lives that involve no work whatsoever, and in many cases, very little activity. Maybe your pup gets an hour walk in the morning and then spends the rest of the day lounging around the house.

Sound boring? It can be, and boredom combined with excess energy often leads to behavioral issues, such as anxiety and destructive chewing. If you want to help your dog release some of that energy and live a happier, more fulfilled life, consider putting them to work! Here are 5 jobs that your dog can do.

1. Have Your Dog Carry a Backpack

Going on a walk or a hike? One dog job is to put your dog to work by outfitting them with a dog backpack filled with whatever supplies you need (poop bags, treats, water, etc.) Dog backpacks are perfectly safe when fitted correctly and loaded with the appropriate weight for your dog’s size (check with your veterinarian). It’s one of those dog jobs that both you and your dog can benefit from on long adventures!

If this job is the right fit, your dog will feel like they are performing an important task by carrying a haul. Your dog should be both mentally and physically stimulated, and that’s what you want in a job for a dog.

2. Teach Your Dog to Help Around the House

Do you sometimes forget to turn off the light before getting into bed? You can teach your dog to turn it off for you.

Do you sometimes leave the front door open after walking inside with an armful of groceries? You can teach your dog to shut it.

How can you do this? With a training method known as targeting.

How to Target Train Your Dog for Household Tasks

First, teach your dog to “touch” a target, such as a post-it note.

1. Hold the post-it note a couple of inches from your dog’s nose.

2. When they learn forward to sniff or inspect it and you see them make contact with the post-it note, say “touch!” and offer a treat. Timing is incredibly important; you should offer the treat the instant that your dog touches the post-it so that they will know what’s earning them the treat.

3. Repeat this exercise until your dog catches on.

4. Once your dog understands targeting, you can place the target (the post-it note, for example) anywhere you’d like, such as on a light switch.

Repeat the above exercise and over time make the target smaller and smaller by tearing off small pieces of the paper and change the command word from “touch” to “lights.” Once your dog reliably touches the light switch, remove the target altogether.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Dog Safety Around the Home

3. Play Retrieving Games

Many breeds — such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Newfoundlands, and Cocker Spaniels — were primarily bred to retrieve birds or other prey for hunters. A lot of dogs still perform these duties today, but those who do not — and don’t have another outlet for their energy — may become anxious and high-strung.

However, you don’t have to become a hunter to satisfy your dog’s natural instincts. Instead, teach your dog to “fetch,” and then take them to new and interesting locations that will help them tap into their innate talents. For example, throw a stick in a river or a stuffed toy in a field. Just make sure that your dog has good recall if you plan to take your game into the wild.

4. Train for Therapy Dog Work

Therapy dogs travel with their owners to places like nursing homes, hospitals, and schools to offer support and affection. Friendly, well-socialized, and healthy dogs are the best fit for therapy dog work, and after training and certification, you can find volunteer opportunities in your area.

Your dog will not only be mentally stimulated, they’ll also do a lot of good. For more information, check out the PetCareRx article “How to Get Therapy Dog Certification for Your Dog.”

RELATED STORY: How to Teach Your Dog to Kiss and Snuggle

5. Take Some Classes

Training classes will put your dog to work as they learn new skills, and in doing so offer plenty of mental and physical stimulation. There are loads of dog training classes to choose from outside of basic obedience. Once your dog masters obedience training, check out other ways to challenge your dog, including tracking (nose work), agility training, and more.

Does your dog “work?” Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.


Tips for Bathing a Pet Who Hates Water


Some pets just love water, but let’s be honest here: it’s a rare pet who is really excited about getting into the bathtub. What do you do when bathing your pet has turned into a wrestling match worthy of a reality TV crew? Here are some tips.

1. Stick to a professional.

Let’s just go ahead and get the “last resort” out of the way. When all is lost and you’re tired of getting scratched up and your pet is tired of getting traumatized, then take your pet to a groomer. They know how to deal with difficult pets and how to be very efficient and calming during the grooming process so that your pet won’t have to suffer too much, even if your wallet begs to differ.

2. DIY, but not in your house.

Take your dog to a DIY dogwash. The anchor leash will help keep your dog’s head still to eliminate struggle. Better yet, between no scuffling, the raised tubs, and the hand-held spray, this should entirely eliminate back strain while you give your pet a very thorough washing.

3. Use a hand shower at home.

Many DIY instructions about bathing a pet include filling buckets of water to pour over your pet to wet and rinse them, but we’ve had the experience of a dog who was much more amenable to being bathed at home once the pet’s parent started using a hand shower for wetting and rinsing the pet’s fur.

4. Use dry shampoo between washings.

If you want to extend the time between trauma – I mean bathing – then try using this Dry Shampoo For Dogs and Cats to make dirt removal gentle and simple without water, and while preserving essential oils in the fur.

You can also try Bio-Groom Waterless Bath No Rinse Shampoo, which contains anti-microbial tea tree oil. Along with cleaning your pet’s fur, this spray can also detangle fur and relieve itching.

Do you have any tips or tales about bathing your pet? Let us know in the comments, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


6 Tips for a Stress-Free Vet Visit

It’s the rare pet who actually enjoys a trip to the vet. In fact, such an animal is probably rarer than a unicorn. However, there are ways to make trips to the vet slightly more pleasant for everyone, although it will take a little more work and foresight to pave the way for a smooth vet visit.

1. Touch your pet like a vet would.

One of the reasons vet visits are so startling to pets is that the vet touches them in ways and places they aren’t accustomed to. You can help your pet feel comfortable with these unusual methods of touching by playing doctor and rehearsing a veterinary exam.

Your vet will examine your pet from head to tail, and may palpate – or gently press down using the hands – different areas of your pet’s body, like the neck and the belly. Lift up your pet’s tail, and run your hands all over your pet, including the feet and nails.

RELATED STORY: The Ever-Important Dog Physical Exam

2. Don’t get nervous.

Be aware of you own energy, because your pet can feed off your anxiety. If you realize you feel nervous on the day of the vet visit, be sure to take some deep, cleansing breaths to lower your heart rate. Stick to your regular routine, including walks, which will help to burn off that nervous energy.

3. Use a calming collar.

If your pet seems to really panic at the idea of a trip to the vet, then consider purchasing a calming collar for your cat or your dog. The soothing scents of chamomile and lavender may help to comfort and relax your pet.

RELATED STORY: How To Know If Your Dog Has Anxiety

4. Don’t use a carrier only for vet visits.

If your pet only sees the inside of the carrier when it’s time for the vet, then that little box is going to represent a cage of panic and grief for your animal. If you use a carrier at home as a safe place for your pet to snuggle and nap, then it won’t seem like such a big, stressful deal to hop in the carrier for transportation to the vet.

5. Practice car rides for other fun reasons.

Likewise, if your pet only rides in the car on the way to the vet, it’s going to be a very long car ride for both of you. Try taking your pet on other excursions in the car, for example, to drive your dog to a meadow for a hike.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog

6. Use treats strategically.

If your cat enjoys catnip, then plan on using it strategically, because the effect only lasts about 5 to 15 minutes. Figure out the worst part of the vet visit for you; is it coaxing your cat into the carrier, or the part where you open the carrier for the vet? Use your kitty treats or catnip with those circumstances in mind to keep the effectiveness high.

Likewise, if you know you have a visit to the vet approaching, get a little stingy with your treats for your dog until it’s ‘go time’ for maximum effect. A dog with a belly that’s already loaded with treats isn’t going to be too interested in your bribery.

How do you keep your pet calm for a vet visit? Let us know by leaving a comment below! Sign up for PetPlus and save up to 75% on your pet’s medications plus discounts on boarding, supplies, and more. 


3 Ways to Comfort a Frightened Pet During a Thunderstorm

Fear of thunderstorms is a common phobia in pets. When thunder begins to rumble and lightning strikes (or even beforehand), your pet may dive under the bed, bury their head in your lap, tremble, whine, drool, or pace. In some severe cases, a pet may even engage in destructive chewing or scratching as a way to release their anxiety.

While your pet’s jitters may seem cute or comical at times, what you’re really seeing is a scared and unhappy animal, and there’s nothing funny about that. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your pet overcome their fear of storms. We will provide some tips here, but don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian or contact a certified behaviorist if you need more help. You will find links to specialist websites at the bottom of this page.

1. Desensitize Your Pet To Storm Sounds

One way to teach your pet that storms are nothing to fear is to expose them to the sounds of storms gently and gradually. Use a CD or YouTube clip of recorded storm sounds, and play the sounds very quietly for a few seconds at a time. Reward your pet with a tasty treat while they are listening. Gradually increase the volume and duration of the recordings, always looking out for signs of anxiety, and stopping if you see that your pet is afraid. The goal is to form a positive association with storm sounds, not to exacerbate an already existing fear.

If you wish to try desensitizing your pet to storm sounds, it may be useful to contact a professional for help. In addition, experts caution that sound desensitization alone may not work in calming all of your pet’s storm fears, as many pets respond not only to the sounds of a storm, but also to static electricity, the drop in barometric pressure, and other environmental factors.

RELATED STORY: My Dog Is Shaking: 8 Possible Reasons

2. Offer Your Pet A Safe Space

One way to help your pet out during a storm is to make sure that they have a quiet and comfortable place to go (if they choose to) when a storm is going down. This may be a crate, a basement room, or a cozy corner of a bedroom away from any windows. The important thing is to allow your pet to decide where they want to go during a storm; confining an anxious pet or forcing them into a certain area of the house can result in heightened fear and panic.

3. Try A Thundershirt

Thundershirt is a garment designed to calm pets down by providing constant, gentle pressure to your pet’s body — almost like a perpetual hug. Experts believe that the shirt’s pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system, possibly due to the release of a calming hormone like endorphins. According to customer surveys completed by Thundershirt, over 80% of dogs and cats showed significant improvement in symptoms when wearing the shirt.

RELATED STORY: What Can Cause A Scared Cat To Panic

If you feel like you need help training your pet to weather the storm, your veterinarian should be able to provide recommendations to the following types of specialists:

Is your pet afraid of storms? How do you help them settle down? Leave a comment below, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies (like Thundershirts!), and more.


6 Ways To Calm Your Pet Before And At The Vet

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.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog

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.

RELATED STORY: How To Know If Your Dog Has Anxiety

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.

RELATED STORY: The Ever-Important Dog Physical Exam

Have any other techniques for calming your pet before or at the vet? Leave a comment below and let us know!