Getting an anxious or fearful pet into the veterinarian’s office is no picnic. And even a friendly pet can be too excitable to make vet visits easy. In some cases managing him or her while you’re there can be so frustrating or painful that the pet ends up missing out on the regular wellness exams and care that he or she deserves.
Making sure your pet gets the important health care he or she needs is our top priority at Deer Creek Animal Hospital. Our vet exam training tips and tricks are aimed at helping you to navigate your pet’s vet anxiety, so he or she can come to see us!
Begin with the Car
For many pets, the anxiety associated with a trip to the vet begins with the car ride over. If your pet only gets in the car to go to the vet, this will only increase his or her car-related stress. To remedy this, begin taking your dog for car rides that end in a fun activity, such as a trip to a dog park, play date, or hiking trail. Load your cat into his or her crate and go for short drives, ending with lots of praise and treats.
The Value of Crate Training
Speaking of crates, it’s the rare cat who goes willingly into his or her carrier, whether you are preparing for a trip to the veterinarian or not. In fact, simply getting a cat into the crate can be the most difficult part of taking a cat to the vet.
It’s possible, and advisable, to crate train your cat, and here’s how to begin:
- Leave the crate open in a room where your cat spends a lot of time. Fill the crate with your pet’s bedding, toys, and treats to encourage him or her to enter willingly.
- As soon as your cat is comfortable in his or her crate, experiment with closing the door, leaving it closed for longer and longer periods of time as your cat becomes acclimated to it.
- Eventually, pick up the carrier with your cat inside and carry it around the house. Once your cat is accustomed to this, you may move on to car rides.
Don’t underestimate the power of a tasty morsel! Help your pet create a positive association with the veterinarian’s office by providing delicious treats before, during, and after your pet’s exam.
Training Helps Exams go Smoothly
A few simple obedience commands can make a trip to the vet’s office significantly less stressful for you and your dog. Asking your dog to perform a command, such as come, sit, stay, lie down, etc., rather than having to struggle with or physically move him or her from one location to another, will relieve stress and redirect him or her to concentrate on something other than feeling either excitement or fear.
Practicing at Home
When your pet is calm and relaxed, mimic some of the most common veterinary exam procedures by touching and handling your pet’s belly, lifting his or her lips, looking in the mouth and ears, and holding each paw in your hand. Not only will this reduce some stress during an actual examination but it will also give you the opportunity to spot any lumps, bumps, or other potential issues your pet may have.
Sometimes, a little bit of exposure is all your pet needs to feel more comfortable. Feel free to bring your pet to the office any time for treats, snuggles, and a quick jump on the scale to check his or her weight.
If you are still struggling with your pet’s vet anxiety or over-excitement, please give us a call!