We’ve all been there. Loving Fluffy is suddenly nowhere to be found to go into her carrier. Or, she tries to scratch your face off when you try to put her in it. Even with catnip! “You usually love catnip, Fluffy?!” Fido cowers in the corner, shaking, before you make it to the car. Or, he needs a muzzle by the time you get into the exam room.
It’s pretty typical but it doesn’t have to be. My fellow trainer, Erin, recently wrote a blog with great tips on what to do when you get your nervous Fido to the vet. Now, let’s talk about some things you can do BEFORE you get there.
At the veterinarian’s office things can get pretty hectic and everyone wants to get the patient in and out as quickly and painlessly as possible to keep the stress levels on the animal at a minimum. Most veterinarians, vet technicians and vet assistants try to make each visit as positive as possible but so many animals are very stressed.
By taking some proactive measures, the visit to the vet can be easy as pie and maybe even a little fun!
Unfortunately, we have emergencies and animals are not prepared. When an animal is severely ill or injured, there really isn’t any time for play and treats so having your pet used to strangers moving in to handle them is crucial. Picture this: Your four-year-old, 80 pound, mixed breed dog that usually freaks out at the vet is suddenly ill. He is lethargic, is vomiting, has diarrhea, won’t eat or drink, and seems to be in pain. You get him into the animal hospital and the staff quickly goes into action taking his temperature, reading vital signs, etc. Your veterinarian wants to do radiographs, look in the dog’s mouth to check his gums, touch every part of his body to see where the source of pain may be. An animal in pain may bite, even if that isn’t typical behavior. Add to the mix the fact that strangers are invading his space and touching him, it’s probably very scary! The staff’s number one priority is the safety of your pet and themselves. The more an animal fights under restraint the more they are at risk for injuring themselves or a person.
So, what can you do? We can’t prevent all illnesses and emergencies but by handling and practicing restraining methods with your pet when they are young will help their visit so much. You can also do this with older dogs and cats; it just may take some more time for them to get used to it. With dogs and cats, the best time to start getting them ready for the vet is when they are puppies and kittens.
Have fun with it! Practice often and reward with treats, toys, or whatever your pet thinks is really great. Not only will it be less stressful for them, it will be for you too.