Reducing stress at the veterinary hospital begins at home prior to the appointment.
Fear, anxiety and stress can be prevented, but they cannot be reversed until the stimuli causing them is removed. If you know your pet gets stressed easily despite the following recommendations, please contact us to talk with one of our doctors, or our certified dog trainer, Darci.
We will work with you to create a customized visit plan that aims to minimize your pet’s stress-related issues from the time they leave your home to the time they return. If needed, we can prescribe supplements, aids, and/or medications that help reduce your pet's anxiety and keep them calmer. Additionally, we can discuss symptomatic care for pain, car sickness, and other conditions that can contribute to vet visit stress.
Acclimate Your Pet To The Travel Aids That Keep Them Safe
Small dogs and cats are most secure traveling in a crate. Carriers should have a removable top. Animals should be transported in separate carriers when traveling together.
Animals will be more accepting of their carriers if given the opportunity to acclimate to them over time. This can be accomplished by leaving it accessible in the house at all times. Remove the carrier top and place a bed or toys in the carrier to help to enhance your pet's comfort. Feed meals in the carrier or randomly drop high value treats so the pet looks at the carrier as a positive place to seek out.
Medium to larger dogs may be more secure when using a seat belt if crating is not possible. Pets who use seat belts should practice wearing the seat belt harness, as well as getting into and out of the car and being latched in. Using their favorite treats will help them to enjoy the process.
Eliminate Stressful Stimuli Associated With Travel
Cats and dogs can be stressed by any unfamiliar sights, smells, or noises. Common travel related stressors include slippery surfaces, engine noise or motion of the car.
Carriers should always be carried from below, not the handle, to prevent sliding and instability.
Place the carrier on a flat surface and use a towel or bedding to prevent sliding. Cover the carrier with a towel, or, use window shades to block the view outside the car to lessen stress while driving.
Soft classical music or white noise helps muffle the sound of the engine and traffic.
Turn the car on before your pet is placed in the vehicle to allow the interior of the car to reach a comfortable temperature.
Use pheromone sprays or wipes. These natural products mimic chemical signals that dogs and cats use to communicate and feel comfortable. Pheromone options are available in advance of your visit by contacting our office.
Use Food And Other Enrichment
Food and the use of enrichment items such as toys can help reinforce good behavior. Giving your pet a special reward for good travel behavior can help to condition them to enjoy car rides and trips to the vet.
We utilize food throughout the visit to distract our patients from their fear, anxiety, and stress. Bringing pets to the hospital hungry can help us help your pet. If your pet has special dietary needs or a favorite toy, please bring it with you.
Pets are creatures of habit. Changes in their routine will often place them on alert. Plan your day to allow extra time for your appointment.
Allow For Reintroduction To The Home
After a veterinary visit, pets may be a bit on edge when they get home. This is especially true of patients who are painful or may have undergone sedation or anesthesia. It may be necessary to give stressed animals some time alone when they arrive back home. Food and/or play may also help patients adjust quicker.