We all know how stressful it can be for us to visit the doctor, imagine how stressful it is for our pets? We’ve all seen our calm cat try to claw their way out of a carrier, or a usually very social dog putting the brakes on before entering the clinic. Well, our mission at Coxwell Animal Clinic is to have every pet that comes through the door to have the most pleasant and calm an experience as possible.
Here are a few tips to make their experience as stress-free as possible:
Have the carrier out so your cat can explore and get used to it before a trip. Try feeding them in the carrier and making it a comfortable environment for them. If they’re used to the carrier, they may be more comfortable with travelling to the vet!
We always love to have happy visits! This usually is more conducive to our canine friends. We have a bottomless treat jar and love to spoil our patients. Having your dog come by for a happy visit to receive pets and treats will make their experience more pleasant. We can also get them habituated to getting on the scale. We are also happy to doggy-sit if you’re in the neighbourhood getting a coffee or a snack and need us to watch them.
Find a Quieter Time
If you know your pet is very anxious at the vet, please inform our staff when booking your appointment. We will try to schedule them in during a quieter time.
Condition to Handling
Handling your pet at home is an interactive way to get your pet comfortable with the vet and to help with bonding. While in a safe space you can practice checking their ears, mouth, paws and reward all good behaviour.
If your dog is already nervous for car rides, bringing them to the vet in the car can make this worse! Try to condition your dog to have a positive experience in car rides. You can try feeding them in the car, and rewarding them when they are calm in the car. If your pet continues to be anxious in the vehicle, they may require pharmaceutical help to calm them down.
If coming by car, use a seat belt or carrier to transport your pet. Especially with cats! We are off of a busy street, and we don’t want your cat getting scared and running away. If you don’t have a carrier, we’d be happy to lend you one.
Maintain Space in the Waiting Room
Dogs and cats tend to get more anxious when they’re feeling crowded. If possible, try to find an area with more space so your pet won’t feel crowded. Also, dog owners, please remember that even though your dog may like cats, most cats don’t like dogs! So please give cats more space.
Inform Us If Anxious
If your dog or cat is quite anxious, let us know on arrival or when you book your appointment. We’d be happy to move you into a room as soon as you arrive. Or if weather permitting, some dogs prefer to wait outside until they’re ready to be seen.
Reward Good Behaviour
Don’t forget to reward good behaviour! We have to encourage our pets when they’re exhibiting food behaviour, whether it’s through praise or treats. We can also use these reward systems to distract them and redirect them to positive behaviour when they’re stressed.
If your pet is still quite anxious despite all of these tips, we may have to add in supplements or medications. Our dog room is sprayed with canine pheromones before appointments, and the cat room has a pheromone diffuser. If you have an extremely anxious pet, it may be safer to administer a mild sedative before the appointment. This enables more stress-free handling for your pet.
We are always happy to work with our anxious pets. We can take things slow; get them used to different procedures and reward good behaviour.
Written by Dr. Ashley Woo, DVM