Visiting the veterinarian can be a daunting experience for your pet and you. Every pet is unique and may struggle with different veterinary experience fears. Therefore, you should prepare your pet for a trip to the veterinarian based on their specific personality and needs. Our team at Valley Center Veterinary Clinic shares six tips to help you circumnavigate your pet’s veterinary visit fears. 

#1: Give your pet’s veterinarian a heads-up

Before your visit, communicate with your veterinarian about your pet’s temperament and any experiences that may affect their behavior at the clinic. If your pet is particularly nervous or has had a traumatic experience, let our team know in advance so we can prepare to set up your pet for success. Your pet’s comfort is our top priority, and communicating with us before your pet’s appointment allows us to tailor the visit to meet their needs. We can also discuss anti-anxiety medication for your pet that you can administer at home, before leaving for their appointment so your pet will feel less anxious and more accepting of veterinary care. 

#2: Schedule your pet’s appointment strategically

The timing of your pet’s visit can make a significant difference. Select a day when your schedule is wide open, so you don’t feel rushed or distracted, and factor in plenty of travel time. Try to schedule your pet’s appointment during less busy times, such as in the morning, which can expose your pet to fewer people and animals, so they will be less overwhelmed. Include time for a celebratory, post-appointment activity for you and your pet to decompress.

#3: Write down questions for your veterinarian

Your attention will largely be focused on your pet during their appointment, and you may forget 

to ask important questions regarding their health. Ensure you get the most of your visit by bringing a list of questions such as how to administer your pet’s medications, parasite prevention, or their vaccination schedule.

#4: Prepare your pet’s carrier 

A crate or carrier is the best way to transport your pet safely and reduce the risk of running away. However, the carrier signals impending doom to many pets. To change this perception, make the carrier a familiar, safe space. Leave it open at home with a comfortable blanket inside. You can also place treats and toys in the carrier to encourage exploration and positive associations. Getting your pet used to the carrier as a part of their normal environment can significantly reduce stress when they have to travel to their veterinary visit.

#5: Familiarize your pet with veterinary handling 

Pets are often uncomfortable with the poking, prodding, and handling that occur during a veterinary visit. You can help ease this discomfort by gently familiarizing your furry pal with these experiences at home. Concentrate on handling  the following  body parts:

  • Ears — Many pets don’t like having their ears touched, which can pose many challenges when they need their ears cleaned. Rub your pet’s ears, lift the ear flap, and inspect the ear canal to get them used to ear handling.
  • Feet — Feet are another challenge for veterinarians. Getting your pet used to having their feet handled is important so their nails can be trimmed without causing them excess anxiety. 
  • Mouth — Mouth handling is necessary so you can brush your pet’s teeth daily to help prevent periodontal disease. This also helps our veterinary team evaluate your pet’s mucous membranes and oral health.  
  • Tail — If your pet is used to having their tail handled, it will be easier for our team to get an accurate body temperature. 

While handling your pet, reward them with plenty of praise and treats. This way, your pet becomes accustomed to being handled and teaches them to tolerate their veterinary physical examination.

#6: Bring your pet’s favorite treats

Your pet’s favorite treats can offer a much-needed distraction during their veterinary visit. Bring a generous supply and allow our team to give them out as needed to help your pet feel more comfortable during their visit. Use the treats to reward calm behavior and cooperation throughout the visit. This reinforcement can make future visits easier, as your pet will start associating the veterinary clinic with enjoyable experiences.

Our team strives for a positive, comfortable experience, and we will partner with you to ensure your visit is as stress-free as possible for you and your pet. To schedule your pet’s next appointment or discuss pre-visit medications, contact our team at Valley Center Veterinary Clinic.