At Loving Family Animal Hospital, our name says it all. We want your pet to feel loved when they visit our hospital, but we know the reality—some pets feel really afraid. Fortunately, only a few simple steps can help your pet stress less at the vet. A happy vet visit begins at home, long before you get in the car and head to their appointment.
Start while your pet is young
Pets naturally resist when you handle their paws, mouth, and ears. But, procedures such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, and toothbrushing don’t have to cause stress. Create positive associations with these activities as early as possible. When your pet is relaxed, such as during snuggle-time on the couch, slowly and gently ease into stroking their paws and ears, using plenty of praise and positive reinforcement.
Make the pet carrier fun
Security is our top priority, and cats and puppies are often most secure, safe, and comfortable in their carrier during transport. A carrier also ensures they don’t get loose in the parking lot, and limits their exposure to infectious diseases. But, do not introduce their carrier for the first time on the day of the vet visit. Create positive carrier associations at various times, so the carrier’s appearance does not signal stress. Cats love to explore, so place treats and toys in the carrier for play time. For puppies, crate training is not only a wonderful tool, but also, when done correctly, is widely considered the best house-training approach, in addition to safer transport.
Make car rides a walk in the park
Jump in the car sometimes with your pet for fun, so car rides don’t always end with a vet visit. Dogs love a drive to a special park. Bring a helper for cats, and offer treats or canned food, along with plenty of reassurance. Some pets may experience motion sickness, without the tell-tale signs of drooling and vomiting, and may benefit from riding on an empty stomach, or prescription medication from our hospital.
Schedule pet hospital “happy tours”
Car rides can end in a needle-free visit to our hospital. Call us to schedule a short “happy tour” of the reception area, exam room, and treatment area. We will lavish your pet with positive experiences, to help uncouple associating our hospital with stress.
Bring favorite items to the vet appointment
Many pets have a special toy that serves as a security blanket. Familiar items from home will add reassuring scents to the exam room. The vet visit is the time to break out the most tempting treats, so let us know if your pet can have peanut butter or cheez whiz in small amounts. We’ve found a fan favorite for cats—whipped cream!
Use our separate canine and feline reception areas
We are not only an American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP)-certified Cat Friendly Practice, but we also earned AAHA’s 2017 Practice of the Year award for our efforts to positively care for your pets. We are extremely proud of our animal hospital, which is designed to feel like home, with inviting colors, comfortable couches, and separate canine and feline reception areas.
Look into Fear Free
The Fear Free mission is to “take the ‘pet’ out of ‘petrified”’ through pet owner and veterinary staff education and training. See the Fear Free website for videos and information on alleviating pet stress associated with veterinary visits. We incorporate many of their ideas into our exam rooms and treatment areas, to keep your pet’s fear at bay.
Give us a heads-up
If your pet is prone to anxiety at the hospital, let us know before your appointment, and we will do our best to accommodate your pet’s needs. For example, we will allow a dog who is overstimulated by other dogs to arrive at the back entrance instead of the main reception area. Some pets need you by their side throughout the visit, and others do better if you wait in the car.
Give prescribed pet medication
Pre-visit consultation also allows us to determine if your pet needs a calming medication plan. Some pets benefit from prescription medications a few hours before their appointment. while others need a dose the night before. Some do well with a natural anti-anxiety supplement, or a calming pheromone spray. Together we will develop a “chill protocol” that works for your pet.
If needed, use a muzzle correctly
An injury is the last thing we want during your hospital visit. Basket muzzles are a necessary precaution for some pets, such as protection-trained pets and military working dogs. Pet muzzle-training lowers your pet’s stress, and allows them to be safely muzzled without injury risk.
Call us before your appointment, to save your pet from vet-visit stress. We will ensure your pet will feel the love, and feel like family at Loving Family Animal Hospital.