Q: What can we do to keep our pets from being so nervous when they go to the vet? We have a dog and two cats and all of them seem to get super anxious before, during and after the visit.
A: This is a great question because many pet owners struggle with the same problem. I’ll divide the dog and the cats up when looking at ways to help their anxiety, as some methods will work better for one species and not so much for the other.
For your dog, start off by bringing him to the office just to get him weighed or even if you are just stopping in to get pet food or some product from your veterinarian. Doing so will hopefully condition him into thinking that every trip to the veterinarian’s office is not about getting poked and prodded; sometimes you just hang out and get a treat. On these visits, try to get him to interact with a couple of the clinic staff members so that he views them in a positive light. You also can use a product such as Adaptil, which is a pheromone that helps most dogs to relax. You can spray it on a towel or blanket that he will lay on for the ride to the clinic, as this may reduce anxiety.
For your cats, there is a similar product to Adaptil, called Feliway, that is a pheromone for cats to help reduce anxiety. I recommend spraying and wiping it into their carriers before a visit and then placing the cats in the carrier at home so that they are exposed to this scent hormone for at least a little while before the ride. Hopefully by the time you get to the veterinary clinic, they will be more relaxed than they normally are. I also like to have nervous, anxious cats stay in the carrier for a few extra minutes once they arrive and are in the exam room, so it is a good idea to arrive 10-15 minutes early for your appointment.
Hopefully these tips will help to make your future visits a little easier for everyone.