Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Preparing for a trip to the Vet Office

We would love to see every pet happy when they arrive and leave! (Image Source)

While some pets may love a trip to the veterinary office, it is no secret that most of our patients are less than excited when it comes time for an examination.

Consider withholding their meal prior to a visit, this will make treats more rewarding! (Image Source)
First we will look at routine visits. This would be for puppy vaccines, and annual exams. One trick that may make the visit (and car ride if your pet gets car sick) a little easier is to withhold food the morning of the visit. This can help make treats we give in clinic much more rewarding and give your pet something to look forward to at the office. They can be rewarded for getting on the scale, for standing during the exam and accepting petting from staff members. If your pet is on a specific diet or has a sensitive stomach, you could bring that with you and use that instead of treats. If your pet is just too nervous for treats, there may be something else that motivates them, like a favorite toy or a special place they liked to be touched. Make sure you let the staff know what your pet likes best! 

If it is your first visit to the veterinary office, be sure to bring past records! (Image Source)
If it is your first visit to the veterinary clinic, make sure you have any previous records or vaccinations your pet may have received so that can be put on file. Bringing these to the appointment or before the appointment will help streamline the process and make sure your pet isn't waiting around and increasing his or her anxiety level. Pets are also very aware of our stress level so if we act stressed they will start to pick up on this and respond. If you can remain calm and not show any tension this may help your pet as well. 

If you leave the carrier out all the time, cats are less likely to be afraid of it. (Image Source)
Whenever possible with cats, it is best to have the carrier out all the time. It is best if the carrier doesn't just come out for veterinary visits. Cats are smart, and when they see the carrier, many times they will run, but if it is out all of the time, they have no reason to fear it. 

Consider a happy visit, where your pet comes in just to get treats and attention then leaves! (Image Source)
If you pet truly hates trips to the veterinary office, consider stopping by for happy visits. Again withholding food can help make it a more rewarding time. They can stop by for the staff and doctors to give them treats and pet them and then they leave. Repeating this frequently can help decrease their anxiety over time and make future visits less stressful. You can also work with your veterinarian to see if pheromones or mild sedatives may be necessary to help extremely anxious pets, so they do not harm themselves or others. 

Bringing your pet to the vet when they are sick isn't always fun but it can help them feel better more quickly (Image Source)
Sometimes our pets get sick, and preparing for a visit like this is a little different than preparing for a routine vaccination visit. When your pet is sick, make sure you have any pertinent history that can help pin point the symptoms and hopefully help us to determine appropriate diagnostic tests. It is also helpful if we know what medications or supplements your pet is on and if anything has changed recently. Make sure whoever brings your pet in has the ability to make financial decisions OR can reach someone that can make decisions regarding treatment. Without approval for testing it can be difficult for us to help your pet. 

Be sure to write your questions down ahead of time so we make sure they get answered! (Image Source)
Another helpful tip for ANY veterinary visit is to write down questions ahead of time so you make sure you leave with all the answers. You can always call back later, but if you have the questions written down or stored on your phone it can help get you answers during your visit. 
Your pet may not feel like this after every visit, but we can make small steps over time to make each visit more pleasant. (Image Source)
 While your pet may never LOVE coming to the veterinary office, there are definitely ways we can make it less stressful and hopefully more enjoyable with each visit.