A veterinarian visit doesn't have to be a stressful experience. Here are some tips to help you make the trip as smooth as possible.
Write It Down
Put all of your questions on paper before you go to the veterinarian. Do you need to ask about changing medications, treating a particular issue, or addressing a behavioral problem? Maybe you've noticed some things like changes in your pet's eating habits or energy levels. Write it down. You might think you'll remember when you get to the veterinarian's office, but that's not always the case.
Play Doctor at Home
Let's face it, an exam is pretty invasive. All that poking, touching, holding and picking up can be unnerving, especially if you have a skittish pet. To make things easier on everybody, get your pet used to being touched. Check his skin, play with his paws and get him comfortable with the idea of being handled.
Burn It Off
The excess energy, that is. If you have a pooch that's always bouncing off the walls, spend some time playing catch or chase each other around the yard before your next veterinarian visit. This will burn off some energy and help your dog feel more relaxed during the ride and the exam.
The same goes for a nervous kitty. Play fetch, have a game of chase around the house or get out the laser pointer.
Your Home Is Your Palace
Don't let your pet associate his carrier or leash solely with a visit to the veterinarian. If the only time your pet gets confined is during one of these trips, he'll become agitated whenever you bring these items out.
Get your pet used to his carrier by leaving it open around the house or yard, where he can step inside to investigate it. It might be a good idea to practice putting a muzzle on your dog, too. Even the sweetest, gentlest dog can bite when he's in pain or very scared.
Don't be afraid — or feel guilty — to try the easy way out. Some pets feel more relaxed when they have a favorite toy with them. If this is a routine visit and your pet is not sick, you can even bring along a chewy snack to keep him busy.
Even better, hide the bribe in your purse or pocket and reward him when he behaves well or stays calm during the visit. He'll eventually start to associate trips to the vet with fun surprises and might even learn to relax a little more.
Remember, a trip to the veterinarian might not be as much fun as a trip to the park, but with some prep work, it won't feel like punishment, either.
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