Going to the vet for your pet’s annual vaccination can often be a difficult and anxiety provoked experience for both you and your pet. Do you have this issue yearly and wish it was easier and more enjoyable? Read on to find ways to help reduce the stress of the experience for your pet and in turn make it easier for you.
Your pet may become stressed visiting the veterinary clinic as they are in an unfamiliar environment, cannot control or predict what will happen to them and may be in pain. These bad experiences then often make the next visit even more difficult.
Signs that your dog is anxious may be more subtle than you realise. Cowering, leaning away, holding head and tail low, tense body, trembling and looking away may be some obvious signs. However, you may miss the more subtle signs of lip licking, yawning, panting, salivating, sniffing and acting sleepy or distracted. Cats show fear through a tense body, lowered head and leaning backward, flat ears, twitching tail and sometimes hissing.
Your pet learns by association, so without actually telling him/her about their upcoming vet visit, your behaviour and body language prior to the appointment gives it all away. From the moment you book the appointment get your dog comfortable with travelling in the car by taking him/her for a few short, fun car rides to allow him/her to associate travelling in the car with no distressing destination. Similarly, get the cat carrier out to allow your cat to familiarise himself/herself with the carrier, place some food or his/her favourite toy inside to encourage investigating and going inside, in turn reducing the association of the carrier with a stressful car ride to the vet clinic.
Try to be relaxed as possible leading up to and during the visit to the vet, to help your pet to remain relaxed too. On the day of the appointment natural pheromone sprays can be used for both cats and dogs to assist in calming them. Restricting food prior to travel can help to reduce your pet feeling nauseous during the car ride and in turn reducing anxiety. Keep your pet happy by taking his/her favourite treats or toy with you, and place a blanket or towel over your cat’s carrier to reduce external stressors.
The best way to reduce your pet’s stress when visiting the vet clinic starts now. Make some fun visits to the vet clinic throughout the year for a treat and pat from the friendly staff, then head home again without any stressful experiences. This can help your dog to associate the vet clinic to good visits and not always pain and discomfort, in turn reducing anxiety for future necessary visits.
Veterinary Nurse Kirstie Hancock is qualified in animal behaviour with her Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services through the Delta Society. She has lots of great tips and ideas when it comes to misbehaving pets. Keep an eye out for her monthly tips on our Facebook page. Also check out her own business Facebook page - Positive Paws.