How To Reduce Fear And Anxiety At Your Next Vet Visit.

fear and anxietyOne of the main reasons people don’t bring their pet to the vet is due to the fear and anxiety their pet experiences.  Many veterinarians and hospitals, including Guthrie Pet Hospital, are responding to this problem by joining the Fear-Free Initiative®.

According to the Bayer Veterinary Healthcare Usage Study, 37% of dog owners and 58% of cat owners said their pet hated going to the vet.  Every fearful experience your pet goes through can cause permanent damage and condition your pet to have more fear and anxiety in the future.   The first step is recognizing signs. [Tweet “Every fearful experience your pet goes through can cause permanent damage”]

 

Signs of fear and anxiety in your pet:

  • panting, trembling, whining
  • yawning, staring, sleepy
  • excessive shedding
  • excessive salivation, licking
  • sweaty paws
  • hiding, freezing, cowering
  • reluctant to accept treats

Owner’s step to reduce fear and anxiety:

  • Deliver a calm pet to the clinic.   Since getting in the carrier and the car is the first step in getting to the vet, this is one of the most important steps to reduce fear and anxiety.   It’s important to condition your pet to the carrier and the car.  For more information on this, read my post How to Make a Crate Happy Pet.  Using pheromones, like Adaptil and Feliway, and covering the carrier can also help reduce fear and anxiety.
  • Bring your pet to the vet hungry.  If your pet is hungry, it will respond to food treats, which will act as a distraction during the examination and treatment of your pet.  If your pet has a favorite treat, bring it with you to the veterinary clinic.

Veterinary’s step to reduce fear and anxiety:

  • Reduce time in the waiting room.  Take fearful pets into the examination room upon arrival, if possible.  Providing a separate cat and dog waiting room along with visual barriers such as plants and shelves can help tremendously.
  • Have species specific examination rooms.  Guthrie Pet Hospital is a Certified Cat-Friendly Practice, which means we have an examination room dedicated to cats only.
  • Create a quiet, calm environment in the examination room.  Use pheromones, like Adaptil and Feliway in the exam rooms.  Play calming music and talk in a soft voice.  Avoid eye contact with all pets and use a non-slip surface on the exam table.
  • Explore alternate locations to perform your exam.  Some pets have less fear and anxiety on the floor or in their carrier.
  • Medicate.  Use anti-anxiety, sedatives and pain medication early and often.  Whatever is necessary to protect your pet from fear and anxiety is the key to your pet’s health and longevity.  Talk with your veterinarian about giving your pet some anti-anxiety medication before your next visit.

As a veterinarian, we take a vow to first do no harm.  It’s time for everyone, including pet owners, to jump on the Fear-Free bandwagon.  It’s a win-win-win situation for you, your pet and your veterinarian.

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