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How to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful for Your Pet

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Well, this is embarrassing. We had a dog that had to go into the veterinarian’s for an operation last week. It shouldn’t have been necessary. The problem is that he’s a hound mutt with a healthy dose of Jack Russell Terrier–which means that he’s excitable. To put it politely. Which cost us a few hundred dollars because our dog just couldn’t be calmed down enough for a simple procedure. [photo via freedigitalphotos]

But there’s the good that came of it: One of our vet’s staffers thought that our dog was acting so wild because he was nervous. Actually, our dog loves going to the veterinarian. He thinks it’s the best kind of attention that a dog can get. Still, that’s how we learned that nervous pets are a common problem when they visit their doctor. That inspired us to do some research–and, luckily, there are things that can be done to relieve a pet’s stress over a visit to the vet…

Get your pet accustomed to car rides

If the veterinary office is the only place your pet travels to in the car, a car ride could immediately produce anxiety.  Take your pet on trips so it is comfortable in the car and learns that it is a non-stressful situation.

Familiarize the pet with the carrier you will be using

Your pet should feel safe when entering its carrier.  Keep the carrier accessible to your pet in the house so it is comfortable going in and out of it.

Familiar scents

A vet’s office is filled with many unfamiliar scents.  You can ease your pet’s anxiety by putting a towel or blanket from home in their carrier.  The familiar scents can keep your pet from being overwhelmed with all the new smells and, therefore, help keep your pet calm.

Bypass the waiting room

If the waiting room is overwhelming for your pet, bypass waiting in there.  Some veterinary offices will allow you to go directly to an exam room.  If this is not possible, wait outside or in your car with your pet.

Make your veterinarian a friend

Take your pet to visit its veterinarian with no examination scheduled.  Most vets understand how stressful a check-up can be, so ask your vet about scheduling an appointment just to visit.

Give your pet a mock examination

During the examination, your pet will be touched all over while being restrained.  Get your pet familiar with having its ears, mouth, tail, and feet handled.

Talk to your pet

Use a soothing voice to talk to your pet during the wait and the appointment to help it relax.

Treats

Bring treats along to soothe your pet during the appointment.

And keep your own emotions in check

This final one can be the toughest one. Pets are very in tune with their owners’ emotions.  Keeping yourself calm and free from stress and anxiety about the vet visit will enable your pet to relax.

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