Don't Let Stress and Fear Keep Your Pet From Veterinary Visits

Stem Carsickness

Car rides can be stress-inducing in large part because of gastric upset and motion sickness. Ask your veterinarian about medications specifically designed to treat motion-induced nausea. These products can help your pet feel better physically, and by extension, help alleviate the negative association with car trips and veterinary visits. Although most of us consider our pets family members, avoid offering nervous reassurances to your animals, because they can pick up on your trepidation and become even more fearful. Instead, remain as calm as possible, and if you’re using a crate in the car, consider covering the carrier with a light towel or sheet to reduce visual stimuli and stress.

Use the Right Equipment

For dogs, we recommend two walking tools that will allow you to maintain control over your pet’s forward motion and orientation — and actually a front-clip harness that allows you to clip the leash to the middle of the dog's chest. For dogs who are particularly difficult to keep under control, try a head halter. Both of these tools only require gentle pressure to guide a dog’s movement. Use a fixed-length leash instead of a retractable leash for better control, and for larger dogs, consider a 4- to 6-foot length leash with a traffic control feature. This means youcan shorten it or hold it lower for added control in tight spaces, like veterinary waiting rooms.


Compression garments, like the ThunderShirt or the Anxiety Wrap, can also calm some anxious, fearful dogs and cats by essentially providing a wholebody hug, much like swaddling a baby.

Treat Often

Unless there’s a medical reason to feed your pet, delay your pet’s normal meal before her visit. She will be hungry and eager to earn a treat through good behavior. Use soft and smelly treats, like lean deli meats or cheese, and keep them small — like the size of a pencil eraser. Ask yourveterinarian what kinds of foods are safe for your animal, because some people foods and pet treats can cause gastrointestinal upset or interfere with a medical treatment or your pet’s special diet.


During exams, vaccinations, or nail trims, offer 10 to 20 eraser-size treats per minute (yes, you read that right!). Bring a favorite toy as well, because these can be used as coaxers and rewards.

Avoid Waiting

When waiting in a high-traffic reception area, animals can become upset at incoming and outgoing visitors as well as the sights and sounds of other pets waiting in close proximity. And thatnoisy door chime may whip your dog into a highly agitated state, just as the doorbell does at home. Ask about the possibility of going immediately into the exam room or waiting in your vehicle with the necessary heat or air conditioning on until a room is ready.


For cats, place the carrier on a tall, stable surface in the waiting room, rather than a vulnerable position on the floor, and cover the carrier with a towel to limit your pet’s vision. Once in the exam room, open the crate door and allow your cat to come out on his own using coaxers, like a trail of treats or a favorite toy. And maintain control of your pet until theveterinarian or a staff member is available to take over.

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