How can I make vet visits easier on my pet?
Avoiding vet visits makes stress more likely for anxious pets.
According to a recent Journal of Veterinary Behavior study, one in three dogs experienced accelerated heart rates, a natural fear response, while at rest during a mock physical examination. A Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery study showed it’s not uncommon for cat owners to avoid vet visits altogether due to the stress experienced by their pets. Unfortunately, avoiding regular preventive veterinary visits can lead to more traumatic experiences for dogs and cats when they require serious medical care. A fear response during pet visits can also lead to injuries to pets and people and less accurate test results.
Studies show that there’s some natural variability among pet responses to vet visits. Breed, gender, and age can all contribute to a pet’s fear response; however, it is possible to reduce stress and fear for most pets with a little planning and effort.
Practice makes perfect: make vet visits the norm.
Routine preventive health care, also known as wellness visits, reduce risks to your pet’s health, and they tend to be much less invasive and stressful than emergency visits. (According to a study conducted by Nationwide, they also reduce veterinary costs.) Waiting until a pet is sick or behaving out of character to visit the vet means that the sick or injured pet associates vet visits with discomfort, pain, and stress. Some pet parents bring their pets in for quick visits between appointments just to say hello. This gives veterinary staff an opportunity to get to know the pet outside of the exam room.
Play doctor: practice pet handling at home.
Early socialization helps animals adapt to human handling, and the more comfortable a pet is with social interactions, the more successful vet visits will be. One way to help them adapt to being examined by vets is to spend time mimicking some vet practices at home. For example, making gentle touching of ears, paws, and tummies normal at home can reduce stress in the vet’s examination room.
Don’t worry, be happy: pets pick up emotional cues from you.
Your own expectations of the visit will also impact your pet’s stress level. Animals are highly intuitive, and when they pick up on your anxiety, they mirror it. Yes, going to the vet, just like going to the doctor, isn’t necessarily on anyone’s bucket list, but for the sake of your pet’s feelings, pretend it is. If you seem excited and happy to be visiting the vet, your pet is more likely to follow suit. In fact, research confirms that dogs mirror their owners’ anxiety and negativity, so practice positivity for a more laid back vet visit.
Choose a vet that’s sensitive to your pet’s emotional needs.
Each cat or dog has its own unique temperament, and the best vets treat each pet according to its distinct personality and needs. For example, research shows that veterinary hospitals that follow feline-friendly handling guidelines make cats more comfortable during pet visits. This reduces stress for cats, their owners, and vets, which makes visits more pleasant all around. Likewise, pay attention to how your vet and veterinary practice staff interact with dogs, cats, and other small domestic animals. When veterinary staff seem excited to see your pet and actively work to get to know them, you’ve found the right practice.
Schedule your pet’s next vet appointment today.
At Glove Cities Veterinary Hospital/Dove Creek Animal Hospital, we provide personalized care to cats, dogs, and other small pets. Our full service small animal hospital is a cat-friendly practice, and we are always excited to see your fur babies in our office. Don’t wait until you need us, to pay a visit. Come by anytime to say hello so that your pets can see how much we care. Call Gloves City Veterinary Hospital today at 518-725-8117.