You recently received an email reminding you that your pet is due for their annual wellness exam. Your initial instinct was to delete the message to avoid the inevitable stress the situation would cause. However, you have read all the blogs about the importance of regular wellness care for pets, and you know that scheduling the appointment is in your pet’s best interest. Our team at Airway Animal Clinic wants to help make the visit less stressful for all parties, so we offer a few ways to keep your pet zen before they walk through our door.
#1: Plan for your pet’s veterinary visit
Harness your inner boyscout and be prepared. Have your pet’s carrier, leash, treats, and documentation ready and waiting at the door well in advance, so you are not madly rushing around the house before you leave, which will only upset your pet. Other steps you can take to plan ahead include:
- Keep calm — Your pet picks up on your anxiety, and they interpret this information to become stressed themselves. If you find yourself becoming upset before the visit, slow down, and practice a breathing exercise or a grounding technique to calm yourself before interacting with your pet. You need to stay relaxed and stress-free, so your pet mimics your behavior.
- Schedule early — At Airway Animal Clinic we try to keep all our appointments on time. However, this is the real world, and craziness can ensue at any moment, pushing back appointments. If possible, schedule your pet’s appointment during the earliest possible time slot, when delays that would force them to wait in an unfamiliar location for longer than necessary are less likely.
- Communicate effectively — If your pet’s anxiety is excessive, let our staff know. At Airway Animal Clinic, we take the utmost care with every pet, but if we know in advance your pet is a stress ball, we will take extra precautions to ensure their experience is as anxiety free as possible.
#2: Practice your pet’s veterinary visit
Practice makes perfect. New experiences can be frightening for anyone, especially your pet. By getting them accustomed to a few key steps, you can decrease their stress levels.
- Handling — Our veterinary professionals have to handle your pet to evaluate them. We invade their personal space by taking their temperature, looking in their ears, palpating their abdomen, and manipulating their limbs. If your pet is not used to this attention, they can object—sometimes rather strongly with teeth bared. If you practice handling your pet’s mouth, ears, feet, and everywhere else, they won’t be so upset when we see them in the exam room.
- Transport training — Your pet may need to travel to our clinic in a carrier, and they most likely will need to ride in a car to get here. If these are new experiences, or they only happen when your pet goes to the veterinarian, your pet may become distressed when you take out the carrier or head toward the vehicle. Accustom your pet to their carrier by keeping it out for days before the appointment. You can feed them in the carrier, and place their favorite toys inside, to help them accept the carrier as a good, comfortable place. Take your pet on short car rides, and gradually increase each trip’s duration. Ensure you give treats while in the car, so your pet develops a good association.
- Visiting — Schedule a visit at Airway Animal Clinic when you bring in your pet for treats and ear scratches from our team. Let them get to know our friendly team, when they won’t have to be poked or prodded. We want your pet to see us as family members—which is exactly how we view them. Your pet’s well-being is extremely important to us, and we want them to enjoy our company, and not feel stressed.
#3: Praise your pet during their veterinary visit
Your pet values your attention, and they want to please you. Using treats and praise can help make your pet’s veterinary visit a more enjoyable experience.
- Starvation — Only kidding! We do not condone starving your pet, but skipping breakfast on their appointment day can help them be more treat motivated. If your pet especially values a specific treat, bring a large supply, and let our team participate in treating them as well. Give them a treat on the way to the clinic, another when they arrive, another when they walk through the door, and yet another in the exam room. They should also get treats and frequent praise when they are being evaluated by our veterinary professionals. Treats and praise galore!
- Familiar objects — Bring along your pet’s favorite blanket, or their most used and abused toy. Being surrounded by familiar objects will help them feel more comfortable.
If you would like to discuss your pet’s anxiety issues, or schedule a fun, practice visit, do not hesitate to contact our team at Airway Animal Clinic, so we can put your pet at ease.