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12 Tips to Reduce Your Pet's Vet Visit Stress

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Trips to the vet are stressful events for even the most well-adjusted pets. The good news? With just a little preparation and a few minor adjustments, you can greatly reduce your pet's vet visit-related fear and anxiety.

In this article you will...

  • Gain an understanding of what your pet experiences during trips to the vet

  • Learn 6 ways to reduce your cat's stress during veterinary visits

  • Learn 6 ways to reduce your dog's stress during veterinary visits

Before learning how to reduce your pet's stress at the vet, it's important to first understand their experience when going to the vet. Lets take a look at a vet visit from your pet's perspective:

After riding in a fast moving car filled with unfamiliar movements, sounds and smells, our pet arrives at a relatively unfamiliar facility that they visit only rarely. The magnitude of smells associated with this facility are overwhelming and for some pets, intimidating. While processing their new surroundings, our pet enters a busy lobby often containing other animals. Once their exam begins, our pet is handled by several people, some of whom they may never have met before. These unfamiliar faces hold our pet's body in ways they are unaccustomed to - at home our pets typically just get pets and snuggles - and begin to administer our pet vaccinations, trim our pet's nails and perform other treatments that feel strange and uncomfortable for our pet, even when performed in the most seamless, skillful way. Finished with the visit, we lead our pet back through the busy lobby, perhaps past several more animals, and ask them to hop back in the car for another, possibly long, car ride home.

Because the components of vet visits are so drastically different from the activities typically included in your pet's daily routines, trips to the vet are daunting experiences for even the most confident, resilient pet. Introducing stress-reducing tactics to your pet before, during and after your pet's vet visit will greatly reduce their fear levels associated with veterinary care.

Let's explore the different ways to reduce veterinary stress for your dogs and cats.

6 Tips for Reducing Your Cat's Veterinary Fear and Anxiety

  • Leave your cat's carrier out in the house at least a few days before your veterinary visit. Make it a cozy, fun place to be, using blankets, toys and treats

  • Spray an all natural calming feline pheromone called Feliway on your cat's carrier. Our home delivery service has Feliway available for order. Click here to order now.

  • Cover your cat's carrier with a towel or blanket during travel to reduce overwhelming visual stimuli. Bonus: spray the towel with the Feliway calming pheromone.

  • Bring your cat to their visit hungry, to increase the likelihood they will be interested in treats

  • Bring your cat's favorite treats with you to their appointment for our team to use during the visit. Churu is a common feline favorite!

  • Call our office when you arrive in our parking lot in order to skip the busy lobby. Your kitty can wait in your quiet car and we will let you know when an exam room is ready.


6 Tips for Reducing Your Dog's Veterinary Fear and Anxiety

  • Make happy visits to our parking lot and lobby in the weeks leading up to your appointment. These visits are very low-pressure pop ins during which your dog gets treats, love and that's it!

  • Exercise your dog the morning of their visit to reduce excess energy and angst

  • Use an all natural calming pheromone collar called Adaptil to sooth your pet. Our home delivery service has Adaptil available for order. Click here to order now

  • Bring your dog to their visit hungry, to increase the likelihood they will be interested in treats

  • Bring your dog's favorite treats with you to their appointment for our team to use during the visit. we recommend bringing special treats your dog really loves, referred to as 'high-value' treats

  • Call us when you arrive to our parking lot in order to skip the hustle and bustle of the lobby. This is especially important if you have a dog that is leash reactive


"I've Tried It All, Nothing Is Working"

In some cases, a pet's fear, anxiety and stress is so high that the cortisol levels (stress hormones) in their body put them in a 'fight, flight or freeze' state, impeding their ability to engage with calming tactics. When your pet is in this fight flight or freeze state, they are 'over threshold' and cognitively unavailable to register reassurance or comfort. For these patients, we recommend the use of pre-visit anti-anxiety medications. These medications help extremely fearful pets stay below their stress threshold, helping to keep them in a state of mind where they are available for positive association building.


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