Most pets don’t really relish the idea of going for their annual wellness checkups or other veterinary visits. But these checkups are crucial for their ongoing health and well-being, and to catch any possible disease or illness in their early stages. If your pet gets anxious easily, he or she may run under the bed at the slightest jingle of the carrier door opening, or begin to tremble when you take them to the car. This can be upsetting for both owner and pet alike.
The team at Willoughby Veterinary Hospital here to provide some simple solutions to calm anxious pets, so they can have a more relaxed veterinary visit.
Fear-Free Tips To Calm An Anxious Pet
You may feel a bit helpless when it comes to your pet’s emotional state, especially since we can’t sit them down and explain that the vet isn’t a scary place. Even without the ability to fully communicate, there are things you can do to help alleviate some of the fear and anxiety associated with that dreaded car ride:
- Get your pet used to travel—If your pet’s only experience in the car is when they go for their checkups, then they will associate it with that. Try to take your furry friend in the car to go to the park, walk around a new neighborhood, or go to a pet supply store for a new treat or toy. These pleasant experiences will help distract your pet from that one-track reaction to the car.
- Stop by the veterinary clinic just for snuggles—We understand that vet visits can be scary for a pet. This is why we encourage you to drop by every now and then, just to say “hi.” Our team will give your bestie some snuggles and a treat before they are on their way. This positive reinforcement will go a long way toward reducing fear of future visits.
- Exercise your pet before vet visits—Go for a long walk or play a game of fetch or feather chase. This high-energy form of exercise can release pent-up tension and relax your pet. After all, a tired pet is one who is less likely to misbehave.
- Brings lots of treats—Have a handful of treats on you that your pet adores. You can give them these rewards in the car, in the clinic waiting area, and during the examination for some effective positive association.
- Practice at home—If your pet isn’t used to having their paws, feet, or ears touched, then they will be uncomfortable during the examination. An at-home mock exam will acclimate them to what occurs during a physical examination at the veterinarian. Massage the ears, face, paws, and legs so they feel relaxed about being handled later.
- Consider calming treats and sprays—There are a number of anti-anxiety sprays, like Rescue Remedy and DAP, and calming treats on the market. Many pet owners swear by them. Some of the ingredients might include chamomile, Tryptophan, Valerian root, hemp, passion flower, and catnip. If your pet has chronic anxiety, your veterinarian may recommend some anti-anxiety medications to be used prior to any stressful event.
- Make sure you also remain calm—Pets pick up on our distress or worry, which exacerbates their fears. We understand that it can be upsetting to see our furry loved ones so anxious, but maintaining a calm demeanor and an upbeat tone of voice does help. Play some good tunes in the car or purchase a CD or playlist of calming music designed for pets. This will definitely help ease your pet’s anxiety and relax them before the visit.
If your pet deals with more serious anxiety or phobias, it’s important to consult with us on some options for treatment. If you would like more information on tips to calm an anxious pet before going to the vet, we are here to assist! Please call us.