Puppy in waiting room

It’s understandable to be a bit out of sorts while your pet is examined in a closed room. We assume that's just part of the stress of a veterinary visit. But what if you have to maneuver a crowded waiting room full of barking or lunging dogs with some growling cats and their owners thrown in for good measure? Are you prepared to handle the challenges?

As the owner of two dogs and two cats, I’ve learned how to successfully avoid many different waiting room perils. And that enables me to minimize the stress for myself and my pets. From one pet lover to another, here are five ways to keep veterinary waiting areas safe for your pet while maintaining your sanity,

Plan Ahead

For wellness visits or simple appointments, select a time to bring in your pet when the clinic tends to be less busy. If your pets get along, book a double visit so that they can be in the exam room together. It saves you time.

Look and Listen Before Entering

During cool weather I keep my pets in my vehicle and quickly scan the waiting room to scope out the scene. If the lobby is full of vocal, ill-mannered dogs, or people clumsily holding agitated cats in their arms, I give the receptionist my cell phone number and ask her to contact me when an exam room becomes available. If the receptionist is busy, I just call her from my car. That way, I get to stay outside, away from the ruckus, until my pets are ready to be seen.

Elevate Your Cats in Carriers

Cats feel more secure when they can survey the scene from a safe height. Your sick cat does not need to be eye-to-eye with an energetic, drooling Mastiff who is determined to introduce himself. So, keep her carrier off the floor and place it on a sturdy chair or bench or countertop. And for added privacy, drape a bath towel over the carrier.

Employ Body Block Maneuvers

By positioning yourself between your dog and another person’s dog, you can stave off unwanted confrontations. Always keep your dog on a short leash for better control. If the waiting room is crowded, head toward the person who appears to have a quiet, calm dog. Avoid being near chatty people, individuals who insist on dog-to-dog introductions, or ones using flexi-leads on their dogs and allowing their dogs to wander. If necessary, tell people that your pet needs some space and is not in the mood to socialize.

Time Your Exit From the Exam Room

Waiting rooms can go from calm to chaotic during the time your pet is being examined, so again, look and listen before exiting the exam room. If you don't think your pet can handle the environment, request that you and your pet stay in the exam room until the staff can prepare the necessary take-home medications and finalize the bill. If necessary, give them payment while you are in the exam room or, if they have your credit card on file, approve the payment and ask them to email you a copy of the receipt. That way you can leave the exam room and take your pet directly to your car.

Finally, keep in mind that stress is hard on you and your pets and is easy to pass along. If your pet is nervous, it can make you nervous and vice versa. Some animals get anxious in the waiting room regardless of surrounding noise or activity. That's why employing these veterinary clinic tactics can aid in making veterinary visits more calming for your pet and saner for you.