Stress Less: Vet visits don’t have to be a pain

Having a veterinarian for a vet-parent is probably bull.jpgnot very exciting for my dog—I’m constantly doing mini exams on him and checking him over. He also gets to spend a lot of time with me at work, which luckily, he loves to do. Like a lot of pets, Bull loves to come to the Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic and visit with everybody. He likes to check out all of the smells and meet new friends, both two-and four-legged. There are a quite a few, however, who become extremely anxious at the clinic. The minute they leave the house, the entire experience is extremely stressful, even for the owner, and can take a few hours to days to get back to normal. By making a few adjustments, there may be a way to make these trips a bit more pleasant for everyone.

The first step is getting ready for the visit. Our fur kids are very in tuned with our routines. They know when it’s time for annual visits because our routine is the same every year. That is the only time the cat carrier comes out of the attic. That’s when we get ready for work, but put the dog in the car instead of leaving him at home. They know something is different. For kitties, let’s make the carrier a friendlier place. Make it more like a dog crate—leave it out more often. Leave a blanket in there with treats. You can even try feeding from the carrier. Another trick is to wipe the inside with an appeasing pheromone like Feliway.  For Fido, just get ready for work a few minutes earlier and take him for a short car ride down the street or around the block. These short car rides will get him used to going in the car, but not anywhere in particular.

Rex.PNGThe next step is actually going for short car trips. Many pets get motion sickness, increasing their anxiety because they feel strange already when they arrive at the clinic. Taking your pet for a short trip around the block, and then going further and further until you actually reach the clinic will give you an idea if your pet does in fact experience motion sickness. Signs to watch for include excess salivation, retching and vomiting. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to prevent this. You can also go to the clinic just to visit and explore, for your pets to get used to the space and smell.

When you actually arrive at the clinic on exam day, you should check in for your appointment. If you know your pet experiences high anxiety, ask to be seated in a quiet area or even if you can wait in your car until appointment time. Some clinics may even have pheromone sprays for both cats and dogs to help calm them while you wait—always ask.

Finally, never be afraid or embarrassed to ask about mild sedation for your pet. These medications can be given at home before you leave the house to start working by the time you arrive at the clinic. They not only will reduce the anxiety level of your pet, but can also prevent unintentional injury in those cases where fear leads to biting. Remember a veterinarian can only prescribe medications for a patient that has already been seen and examined previously, so a doctor-patient relationship must be established.

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If you ave any questions, please contact your veterinarian or schedule an appointment with one of our doctors at the Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic by calling 504.363.1333 or www.la-spca.org/appointments. You can also contact us at askthevet@la-spca.org.

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