You want the best for your pet and that requires prioritizing their health and wellbeing. Regular veterinary visits are essential to maintaining your pet’s health, but these appointments can stress your furry pal and you. Fortunately, you can significantly reduce your pet’s anxiety through planning and preparation. Our Palm City Animal Medical Center team shares tips for a stress-free veterinary visit, so you can make your pet’s next appointment a positive experience. 

Know the signs of stress in pets

By recognizing your pet’s stress signs, you can learn how to help prepare them for a veterinary visit or other potentially stressful situations. Pets’ stress signs can vary but often include:

  • Hiding or avoidance behavior
  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Shaking
  • Barking, growling, howling, meowing, or hissing
  • Biting or scratching when approached or touched 
  • Excessive shedding during an exam or other stressful situation
  • Pacing or hyperactivity
  • Changes in eye pupil dilation and ear position 
  • Changes in body posture (e.g., tail tucking, cowering)
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation

Socialize your pet 

 A veterinary visit is especially difficult for a pet who is uncomfortable or fearful when faced with unfamiliar people and places. To help prevent your pet from feeling fearful, socialize them beginning at an early age, so they grow into a well-adjusted adult. Ensure you expose your pet to a variety of people, animals, and environments during their early weeks and months of life.

Teach your pet to tolerate being handled 

Dogs and cats can find physical restraint and manipulation threatening. Practice regularly handling your pet at home, and begin by gently touching them in exchange for treats. Keep sessions short—only one to two minutes—and start with a well-tolerated area, such as your pet’s chest or back, and then progress toward their ears, mouth, legs, feet, belly, and tail.

Familiarize your pet with their crate

A crate is the safest, most effective way to travel with your pet, but if you only use the crate to transport your pet to veterinary appointments, they may become distressed when you take it out. Ensure that your pet’s crate is a safe, comfortable space that they can access at any time. To help your pet make a positive association with their crate, follow these tips:

  • Always leave your pet’s crate out and open in the house.
  • Line their crate with a cozy blanket, and put their favorite toy inside.
  • Provide ample treats and praise when your pet willingly approaches and goes into their crate.
  • Feed your pet’s meals inside the crate. 
  • Create a calming environment around your pet’s crate with a small amount of a pheromone spray, such as Feliway or Adaptil, on the blanket inside the crate. 
  • Close the crate’s door when your pet goes inside, and leave them for varying amounts of time, praising them with treats and giving them a favorite toy.
  • Consider taking your pet for short car rides in their crate so they learn that the crate is not only for veterinary visits. 

Exercise your pet before their appointment

A brisk walk or game of fetch before a veterinary visit can help decrease your dog’s tension and relax them. Never interrupt your cat’s nap to put them in the carrier. Play with them first to burn off some energy. Pets are always calmer when they are a bit tired—and so are we. 

Help your pet feel secure during their appointment 

When your pet is surrounded by our Palm City Animal Medical Center’s unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells, you can help them cope. To ease your pet’s uncertainty, bring some small distractions and comforts from home:` 

  • TreatsMany veterinarians recommend ensuring a pet has an empty stomach when they come for their visit, and they will offer treats as positive reinforcement throughout the examination. Bring in your pet’s favorite morsels so our staff can reward your furry pal for their cooperation. 
  • Calming aids — Calming wraps, pheromones, and anti-anxiety medication or supplements can reduce your pet’s emotional distress. 
  • Favorite toy — If your pet has a favorite toy, bring it. When our team can play with your pet by offering them their favorite toy, your furry pal’s anxiety will likely dissipate.

Be prepared and stay calm for your pet’s veterinary visit

Your pet takes cues from your body language, and if you are stressed and upset, they will also be stressed and upset. Stay as calm as possible when loading your pet in the car and leave early, so you don’t have to speed or drive unsafely to make the appointment on time. Stay composed throughout your pet’s appointment, and act as if your trip to the veterinarian is no big deal, which will help your pet stay calm.

By following these tips, you can help make veterinary visits stress-free and ensure your pet receives the care they need. Schedule your pet’s next stress-free appointment with our team at Palm City Animal Medical Center