How to have fear-free vet visits
Watch Vanessa explain how to make a trip to the vet less scary for your pet.
Going to the vets can really take your pet out of their comfort zone. But there are lots of things you can do to reduce this fear and make them feel relaxed and calm.
The most important thing is – don’t be a stranger to your vet’s practice. The more times they visit the practice, the more familiar it will be.
If you can take your pets to visit when they aren’t being treated, they will start to view it as simply a trip out.
For example, at White Cross Vets, we run puppy parties where young pups can come along to play with other puppies. Or if our clients are passing by, we invite them to pop in.
Whenever a pet visits, they get lots of kisses and cuddles at the practice. This helps calm them down, so they don’t see visiting us as a scary experience. Read more about how free Cuddle Clinics work at the bottom of this page.
What about if you have a cat?
With cats, you should start preparing well before your vet visit. Don’t just get the carrier out on the morning of the vet visit. If you have room, leave the carrier out up to a month before, so your cat can play and sleep in it.
Make their cat carrier as comfortable as possible, with familiar blankets and toys.
Pheromones can help
Feliway spray contains pheromones which act as reassuring messages to your cat. As a consequence, they help calm your cat and control undesirable behaviour. Humans can’t detect it but cats can. Use Feliway spray to spray the cat carrier, and the scent will have a calming effect. You can spray the carrier at home and in the vets waiting room.
Adaptil spray is a similar product but for dogs.
On the day of the visit
Leave plenty of time to get to the practice. Don’t rush. If you are stressed then your pet will get stressed. Keep your own anxiety in check as pets can pick up on this. Speak more slowly and soothingly to your pet and if possible add personal touches such as bringing your pet’s favourite toy and blanket.
Treats can be useful but avoid these if your pet might require an empty stomach for an anaesthetic. You might also find that if you limit food beforehand, treats are more effective.
If your pet likes fresh air, waiting outside or staying in the car rather than in the vet’s waiting room can help reduce stress.
We also have separate dog and cat wards for inpatients and we use pheromone diffusers throughout our waiting areas, consultation rooms and inpatient wards.
Meow-sic and Bach
Please excuse the terrible pun, however, another important tip is playing music which has been scientifically designed to relieve stress in dogs and cats, we use these in our kennels and cat wards to soothe patients in recovery.
You can download stress relieving music and soundscape albums to relax your pets – we use these in our practices.
Calming music for dogs:
Stress relieving music for cats
Case Study: From pet-rified to pawsome
Nero now loves visiting his new friends at the vets
We offer free Cuddle Clinics, where any owners that have anxious or frightened pets can come into our surgery for “Play Time”. This enables the veterinary team, owners and the pet to create a trusting bond through regular fun visits.
We have had many pets that have benefitted greatly from our Cuddle Clinics, here’s the story of one such case; Nero, a 2 ½-year-old German Shepherd.
Nero had a bad experience at his previous vets which meant he needed to be muzzled or even sedated to be examined by a vet. He was absolutely terrified at the thought of coming in to see us, which was proving too much for his owners as his annual booster was looming.
Nero paid us a visit once a week and at first, he wouldn’t leave his mums side, but after only two visits he would let us play with his ball and feed him treats. We could let him off his lead and let him walk around the whole practice.
Now when he comes in (sometimes even just to say hello), we can cuddle him and fuss him, which not only makes for a happy pooch but a happy mum & dad too.
He has successfully had his annual booster and even his kennel cough vaccine and always has a cuddle and a handshake every time he visits.