At Town and Country Animal Hospital, our team is our strength. Dr. Davis Hall founded our hospital almost 50 years ago, and several team members have been with Town and Country for many years. When you have questions about making your pet’s hospital visit less stressful, our experienced and caring team has the answers. Read on for our top “less pet stress” tips from our own veterinary technicians.
Tip #1: Don’t set your pet up for separation anxiety
“Try to stay calm, cool, and confident when dropping off your pet. That may seem counter-intuitive, but don’t make a big fuss over them. Let us shower them with attention, so they look forward to being with us, instead of looking backward because they are leaving you.”
Your pet tunes into your feelings, so convey reassurance rather than worry. Your pet is in good hands with our Town and Country team. For appointments and drop-offs, bring your pet’s favorite items, such as their security blanket or favorite toy that have scents from home. Also, bring their favorite treats—unless they are fasting for a procedure. We find that the most reluctant cats fall for a drop of whipped cream—our best “happy cat” inducement.
#2: Let us help desensitize your pet
“Some pets experience a higher level of anxiety when coming to the veterinarian. Let us help with ‘fun tour’ visits, to desensitize and counter-condition your overly anxious pet.”
Schedule hospital visits when we can take time to shower your pet with positive experiences, and no medical procedures. We can bring a highly sensitive cat or dog in through a less-congested side entrance, and pile on the treats and praise while we gradually let your pet explore the reception area, exam rooms, and treatment area, which will allow us to assess what works best for your pet. Most importantly, we’ll spend time with your pet, getting to know them, and building a relationship of trust.
#3: Learn about the “Fear Free” pet concept
“If you put me in a box and carried me in a car to a strange place, I’d cry all the way, too! The Fear Free website is a great resource for decreasing your pet’s stress, with tips on helping cats stay calm in the carrier instead of being overwhelmed with fear, for example.”
The Fear Free website has a library of videos and information on alleviating pet stress at veterinary visits. For example, you’ll find an article with extensive instructions on helping your cat accept the carrier. You’ll learn that cats can be trained with treats in short sessions, since they become “full” and lose interest in treats more quickly than dogs. Follow the Fear Free suggestions, and you’ll soon have your cat purring in the carrier, instead of howling.
#4: Help pets stress less in the car
“Pet car rides don’t have to be a hassle if you go slowly and provide positive reinforcement. After you practice getting in and out, take a car ride for fun—and by ‘fun,’ we don’t mean a fast-food drive-through.”
Practice being around and in the car for short sessions once or twice a day for several days to weeks before your veterinary visit. If your pet gets stressed, stop, and restart later at square one. For their first trip, simply start the engine and back down the driveway. Bring a helper to offer treats to your pet, along with praise. Keep your tone confident and reassuring. If your pet is still anxious, they may need to ride on an empty stomach, or take medication for motion sickness. Some pets are uncomfortable despite not showing the tell-tale drooling and vomiting signs, so check with our team about the best medication option for your pet.
#5: Give pet calming medication as prescribed
“We can prescribe safe and effective calming medications, and some pets need this extra help.”
“Chill protocols” that relieve stress and anxiety for pets without risking heavy sedation have recently been developed. Pets may require medication the night before or the morning of the veterinary visit. Ask us whether medications (e.g., trazodone, gabapentin), supplements (e.g., melatonin), and pheromone sprays or collars would help your pet.
Tip #6: Help your pet know what to expect
“Work with your pet from the time they are young, to get them accustomed to veterinary care. For some pets, muzzle training is a wonderful tool. A basket muzzle correctly placed on a dog-aggressive pet, for example, can prevent a heartbreaking situation.”
Some pets resist more than others when we handle their paws, mouth, and ears. Yet, we must perform routine procedures, such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, and toothbrushing. Begin creating positive associations with these veterinary actions as early as possible. Ease slowly into touching your pet’s paws and ears when they are relaxed, using plenty of praise. Your safety is always the number one priority, so learn to safely and effectively muzzle train your pet, if needed.
Call us for an appointment, and together we will institute a plan to help your pet love coming to see us. Our team, with their 50-plus years of experience, and our knowledgeable veterinary technicians want to work with you, so your pet will enjoy being at Town and Country Animal Hospital as much as we do.
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