Unfortunately, an animal’s fear of going to the vet has become the norm for many pet owners, leading many people to find increasingly elaborate ways to coax or even drag their pet to their appointments. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. Pets can find the vets intimidating because they are in a new environment, overwhelmed by new people, smells and handling. However, there are simple ways as an owner that you can reduce your pet’s fear of the vet and even turn the trip into an enjoyable experience.
Working as a vet, you become very aware of what sparks fear in an animal during their appointment, so here are a few tips to ensure your pet is a happy patient:
- Stock up on treats
Many practices will have tasty pet treats on hand, but it can’t hurt to bring some of your own. Give your pet little treats at different stages of the trip, from getting into the car to the very end of their visit. This should help them develop positive associations with the vet.
- Practice handling at home
One of the things that scares pets most about going to the vet is how they are held and handled during their appointments. You can help your pet feel more comfortable by practising this type of handling at home, occasionally checking their ears, lifting them up, holding their limbs etc. Conduct these practices gently as if you were working as a vet yourself, and of course, encourage them with treats throughout this exercise.
- Make a social visit to the vet
Pets usually only visit the vet when they are unwell, getting a vaccination or having a routine appointment, so they are often uneasy or suspicious when another visit comes along. Try to occasionally arrange for appointments to the vet that are purely social, petting, and exploring the environment. This will allow them to develop a more positive impression of veterinary appointments.
- Have lots of interaction
Working as a vet, you often see animals who are afraid because they are not used to other animals or familiar with much interaction at all. If you have a dog, take them out as often as you can. Dog walking groups, training classes or parks are a great way for them to interact with lots of other animals and people, too. With other pets, make sure that you engage with them on a regular basis and get them accustomed to new people and surroundings. The more you get your pet to interact with new people, pets and environments, the more comfortable they will feel at the vet.