There is no question that bringing a pet to the vet for a visit can potentially be stressful for both animals and owners! Animals can experience stress during the car ride, during handling and holding by unfamiliar people, seeing other patients in the office, and even while being placed on an exam table. Pet parents get stressed when their animals are stressed, and vice versa. The doctors and staff at Shoreline Animal Hospital strive to make your pet’s visit as positive as possible. Here are some ways you can help us to reach that goal of making your pet’s visit as stress free as possible.
How do I know if my pet is stressed? There are many behavioral signs of stress you can look for. Many cats will try to hide, or tremble; some will growl, scratch or swat. In extreme cases, cats may even begin to pant. Dogs may pant, salivate, try to hide, refuse treats, whine, tremble, lick their lips and yawn. Being aware of these signs of stress in your pet will help you respond to their behaviors appropriately.
So what can you do? Stress free visits start at home, and there are things you can do to prepare for your visit. For cats, leave the carrier out for a few days prior to your appointment so he can explore and become familiar with it. When your cat goes into the carrier on his own, reward him with treats. You can even feed him in the carrier to make it more appealing. When it’s time for your cat to go the veterinarian put his favorite toy or blanket in the carrier. If he is still stressed, a pheromone collar or spray may also help. In the car, the carrier should be covered with a towel and placed in the back seat facing forward. Play calming music while driving. Once you arrive at the office, hold the carrier level and steady with both hands while carrying it. The staff will bring you into an exam room as soon as possible so your cat can be let out of the carrier to explore the room. We use pheromone diffusers in our exam rooms that slowly releases a substance that helps the cat feel as if it is in a familiar environment.
Your dog could have a blanket or bed at home that is their “calm down” spot where they go to relax and lay down. Your dog will associate this item with being calm and it can be brought to the appointment to help make your dog more comfortable. You can also bring her favorite treats! We recommend bringing your dog to her visit hungry so feeding those treats will be effective. For dogs that have anxiety about the car, practice taking short car trips to a place she enjoys. It might help to make at trip to Shoreline Animal Hospital just to visit, be weighed or get some treats from our staff members. When your dog is here for her exam, we use a pheromone diffuser in the room, use treats as positive reinforcement and minimal restraint to make the experience a positive one. We will also examine your dog on the floor if she seems nervous on the exam table.
If at any point during the visit we feel your pet is becoming too stressed; we may offer to reschedule the appointment for a different day to minimize the number of procedures done at a time, or prescribe an anti anxiety medication so the visit can go as smoothly as possible. We also have pheromone sprays, collars and diffusers available for sale. At Shoreline Animal Hospital our goal is to make every visit stress free for both you and your pet!