If your dog starts growling as you walk into the veterinarian’s office, or if your cat hides under the bed at the sight of his carrier, try these anxiety-reducing steps:
Before You Go
1. Let your vet know you want to be involved in the visit by feeding your pet snacks and petting him to lessen his fear.
2. Play Doctor: Place your pet on a table; look in his ears and mouth and under his tail, and prod his paws and belly.
3. Swing by the vet’s office the week before the appointment and bring snacks for the staff to dole out to your pet. By the actual visit, your dog will have formed positive associations. Likewise, break out your cat’s carrying case a couple of weks in advance. Lay bedding at the bottom and give him his meals in the case.
4. Feed your dog less food than normal the day before a visit and nothing that morning – he’ll be more receptive to the treats you bring along. Choose soft-textured, tasty morsels, which are easier for a dog to swallow under stress.
At the Vet
5. Instead of rushing into the waiting room, walk your dog around the grounds. A stroll will release some energy, and he’ll feel more comfortable if he’s able to sniff out the surroundings.
6. Similarly, as the vet to let your dog smell the instruments.
7. Relax your pet by massaging him around the neck with a deep, soft kneading motion. If your cat enjoys grooming, have a brush handy to calm him.
Still scared? There may be a good reason: If your vet raises a hand to your pet – or recommends a thump on the nose as punishment – take him elsewhere.
Kevin Behan – August 2000