Basic Pet Care

Visit the Vet without Stress

Visit the Vet without Stress

Human or animal, no one relishes the idea of going to the doctor. Yet regular visits help pets stay healthy and allows veterinarians to identify small problems before they become serious ones.

Whether you’re bringing your pet in for a booster vaccine, annual well-being exam, surgery, dental cleaning or other reason, it can be stressful for both of you. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the experience as calm and anxiety-free as possible.

For You

Minimize time spent in the waiting room by scheduling your appointment for a day and hour when the veterinary practice is less busy. Unless you have an emergency, avoid early morning, early evening and Saturday appointments.

Arrive a few minutes beforehand. If smells, sights, sounds, people and animals in the waiting room alarm or frighten your pet, ask to be moved into an exam room as quickly as possible.

If this is your first time with a new veterinarian, bring a copy of your pet’s medical records. Be prepared to explain why you’ve come and provide a list of symptoms.

Also, note how the veterinarian relates to your pet. Does he or she speak softly and handle them gently? Great! If your pet remains skittish, ask if future house calls or an alternate veterinarian can be arranged.

Take notes during the visit. Make sure you understand instructions regarding pet care and dosage of medications, if any are prescribed. You can also ask to have things written down and emailed to you.

Do you wince, cry or go weak in the knees when your pet gets a shot? Consider asking for your pet to be taken into the back for treatment.

One other stressor may be the cost of veterinary care. Check out the Humane Society of the United States’ resources that can help pet parents in need afford it. Need a few tips? Try these 10 ideas for cash-savvy pet parents.

For Your Cat

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, three quarters of cat owners agree that routine check-ups and preventive care are either very or somewhat important — yet less than half regularly bring their cat to the veterinarian.

One big reason is that most cats are unhappy before they even get to see a vet’s office. Many felines resent being placed in a carrier, going for a car ride and being imprisoned in the waiting room surrounded by strange creatures.

Some ways to make a trip to the vet less stressful:

  • Find a cat-friendly veterinarian
  • Look for a clinic that has separate cat and dog waiting areas
  • Clip your cat’s nails before the appointment
  • Line the carrier with a towel and toss in a toy or some catnip
  • Bring a cloth to cover the carrier in the car and waiting room
  • Keep your cat in the carrier until you enter a private exam room.

For Your Dog

Familiarize your dog with a veterinary examination before your appointment: At a time when your dog is calm, feel his chest and touch his stomach with both hands. You can also raise his lip similar to the way a vet inspects teeth. It’s good practice, since by inspecting your dog, you’re more likely to notice lumps and physical changes to report.

Once your appointment is set, tire your dog out with exercise before you go. Play catch or simply take him for a long walk before getting in the car.

When you arrive, give your dog a chance to relieve himself before you enter the office and be sure to pick up and dispose of pet waste.

If your dog doesn’t get along with other pets, ask ahead of time if you can wait outside until called.

Though he may be excited to check out the others in the waiting room, keep your dog restrained on your lap or by your side. Pet him repeatedly and tell him it’s going to be fine. Because more often than not, that’s exactly how it will turn out.