According to an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) study, more than half of pet owners believe their four-legged friends dislike veterinary appointments, and many pet owners forgo or delay wellness care to prevent their pet from experiencing the stress and anxiety veterinary visits cause. Our Burlington Veterinary Center team recommends that all pets have a veterinary examination at least once per year to ensure they stay happy and healthy. To help make your pet’s next veterinary visit as stress-free as possible, follow these seven tips.

#1: Practice handling your pet

To perform a thorough physical examination, our team must be able to handle them. Your furry pal’s physical exam will go smoothly if they are used to being handled. The younger your pet is when you start helping them become accustomed to handling, the better they tolerate the physical veterinary examination process. Concentrate on on these specific body areas:

  • Ears — Many pets don’t like having their ears touched, which can pose many challenges when they need their ears cleaned. In addition, if your pet develops a painful ear infection, this can exacerbate their unwillingness to have their ears handled. Rub your pet’s ears, lift the ear flap, and inspect the ear canal to get them used to ear handling.
  • Feet — Feet are another challenge for veterinarians. Getting your pet used to having their feet handled is important so their nails can be trimmed without causing them excess anxiety. 
  • Mouth — Mouth handling is necessary so you can brush your pet’s teeth daily to help prevent periodontal disease. This also helps our veterinary team evaluate your pet’s mucous membranes and oral health.  
  • Tail — If your pet is used to having their tail handled, it will be easier for our team to get an accurate body temperature. 

#2: Acclimate your pet to their carrier

If you have a small dog or cat, they may only see their carrier when they go to the veterinarian, which can cause them to form a negative association. Acclimating your four-legged friend to their carrier weeks before a scheduled veterinary visit can help reduce their stress and provide a safe haven when they are at the clinic. To acclimate your furry pal to their carrier, follow these tips:

  • Choose the right carrier — Ensure your pet’s carrier is comfortable, safe, and the right size.
  • Leave the carrier out — Place the carrier in an area where your four-legged friend likes to rest, leaving the doors or flaps open, allowing your pet to investigate it and become accustomed to going inside. Many may also use the space as a new napping area.
  • Use familiar items — Place your pet’s bedding or familiar-smelling items, such as your recently worn T-shirt, inside to make the carrier more comfortable and appealing to your four-legged friend.
  • Entice your pet — Use treats or toys to entice your pet to enter the carrier. You can also feed them inside the carrier so they make a positive association.
  • Don’t rush the process — Start weeks or months before your pet’s veterinary visit. Once they become accustomed to being inside the open carrier, see how they respond to being enclosed. Gradually increase the time you leave them enclosed, so your furry pal will be ready for the trip to the veterinary clinic. 
  • Cover the carrier — When transporting your pet in their carrier, place a blanket over it to help them feel secure and to prevent them from seeing potentially frightening sites.

#3: Schedule your pet’s appointment early in the day

When scheduling your pet’s appointment, ask for the earliest available time. Grabbing the day’s first appointment helps ensure your veterinarian hasn’t yet been delayed by emergencies or unexpected issues that occur throughout the day, which could result in you and your pet having to wait longer before being seen. If scheduling an early appointment for your pet doesn’t mesh with your schedule and you must make a late-day visit, alert our Burlington Veterinary Center team when you arrive in the parking lot and wait comfortably in your car with your pet until a quiet exam room is available. 

#4: Keep your pet hungry

Don’t feed your pet for several hours before their veterinary visit. An empty stomach has two benefits:

  • Helps your pet avoid motion sickness — Many pets experience motion sickness during a car ride, which can make their trip to the veterinarian unpleasant, causing them to be irritable and unhappy when they arrive. 
  • Increases pet’s hunger — If your four-legged friend is hungry, they are more likely to take treats in exchange for modeling good behavior for our team. 

#5: Bring your pet’s favorite treats

Ensure you bring a generous supply of your pet’s favorite treats so you can reward them for being good and distract them for diagnostic procedures. In addition, if your furry pal has an emotional support toy or blanket, ensure they have it during their veterinary appointment 

#6: Schedule a happy visit for your pet

Schedule an appointment so your pet can simply meet our veterinary team when they don’t have to be examined, poked, or prodded. This allows our team to get to know your furry pal, and we can offer treats, belly rubs, and ear scratches without having to give them vaccines or take their temperature. Happy visits are a great way to help your pet make a positive emotional connection to visiting the veterinarian.

#7: Consider previsit medication for your pet

Some pets experience intense stress or fear when visiting the veterinarian, and they may need pharmaceutical intervention to reduce their anxiety and help our team better evaluate them. Talk with us to determine whether your furry pal might benefit from a previsit anti-anxiety drug or sedative. 

Pets need routine veterinary care to stay healthy, but these visits can be stressful. To help reduce your furry pal’s veterinary exam anxiety, follow our stress-reducing tips. Allow our Fear Free Burlington Veterinary Center team to get to know your pet’s carefree side by scheduling your four-legged friend’s happy visit.