A trip to the veterinarian can be a harrowing experience if your pet becomes upset. Stress can cause psychological trauma, as well as significant physiological changes, which can actually skew test results, and decrease your pet’s ability to fight off infections, and to heal appropriately. Our team at Mill Creek Animal Hospital would like to offer advice on helping your pet stay calm, cool, and collected at their next veterinary visit. 

DO practice handling your pet

If you have a puppy or kitten, practice handling them from head to toe, ensuring you include their ears and feet, as early as possible. Pets tend to strongly object to these areas being handled, which makes our veterinary professional’s job difficult when we need to assess them thoroughly. Conditioning your young pet to understand that these practices are normal will make their veterinary visits much easier. If your pet is older, you can teach them to accept this attention by creating a positive association with manipulating different body parts. You can distract your pet using a high value treat, and then handle their feet, ears, or any other sensitive area. Continue this practice daily, until they willingly participate in these handling sessions.

DON’T let your pet know you are stressed

Your pet can easily tell when you are happy, sad, or stressed. If you are worried about their upcoming visit, they will pick up on this anxiety, and feel anxious as well. Act normally as you prepare for the visit, and avoid showing them excess attention. Be prepared, so that you are not rushing to be on time, which will only cause your pet undue stress. If you are calm and relaxed, your pet will know that they need not be concerned about the situation.

DO train your pet to love their carrier

If the only time your pet gets in their carrier is when they go to the veterinarian, they likely form a negative association. Keep the carrier accessible to your pet, and start feeding them in the carrier. You can also put a favorite toy or your clothing in the carrier to make the space comfortable for your pet. The next time they have to get in their carrier to visit the veterinarian, they will not be upset by the prospect.

DON’T forget to familiarize your pet with the car

If your pet has never been on a car ride, the ordeal may prove extremely upsetting, and they will already be distressed before entering the veterinary office. Take your pet on occasional car rides, so they adapt to the experience before their visit. Always keep your pet in a carrier, or restrained in a pet harness, to ensure their safety when traveling in a car. 

DO schedule your pet’s appointment during a quiet time

Our veterinarian’s days can be hectic, and appointments do not always go as planned. Appointments later in the day may get pushed back if a routine visit goes long, or if an emergency arises. If possible, ask for the earliest time slot when scheduling your pet’s appointment. 

DON’T feed your pet before their appointment

If your pet is hungry, they will be more focused on treats, and less focused on the procedures being performed. Bring a generous supply of your pet’s favorite treat, and allow our team to give them out as needed, to distract them, or as a reward for good conduct. Your pet’s empty tummy will be a great motivator to be on their best behavior.

DO allow your pet to visit the veterinarian

Schedule an appointment when you can bring your pet to the hospital when they are not sick or hurt, and do not need vaccines. Bring treats so our veterinary professionals can indulge them with yummy goodies, and let us know their favorite itchy spot, so we can pamper them with pets. If your pet realizes that our hospital offers treats and belly rubs, they will be happy to return.

DON’T leave your pet’s favorite toy at home

Your pet’s favorite toy can offer a much-needed distraction during their visit. If they have a favorite blanket, you can also bring this along, to help them feel more at home.

DO tell our staff if your pet has high anxiety

Our team always strives to provide a stress-free experience for every pet, but if we know in advance that your pet suffers from high anxiety, we can take extra precautions to ensure a positive experience as much as possible. If your pet becomes excessively stressed by a veterinary visit, ask our veterinary professionals if an anti-anxiety medication or mild sedative would benefit them.

Your pet deserves regular veterinary attention, and keeping their experience as stress-free as possible will help ensure they continue to receive the care they need. If your pet becomes stressed when they visit the veterinarian, do not hesitate to contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Mill Creek Animal Hospital for advice on what we can do to help.