The first step of a Fear Free visit begins when you call the clinic for an appointment. If your pet is fearful or anxious during veterinary visits, please let our receptionists know! We can give you tips to make the visit easier.
Once your appointment is scheduled, keep in mind that a low stress visit begins at home! From home to car to clinic we can help you to rethink habits to create a better experience.
Prepping Anxious Dogs for a Fear Free Vet Visit
Often, the only time a dog gets in the car is to come to the vet, so you can see why they may balk a bit! Try to condition your dog to like the car. You can have them get in and out of a parked car for treats and teach them where to sit. Remember that dogs do need to be secured in the vehicle. A hard sided carrier or seat belt (they make them for dogs!) is ideal. We all love to let our dogs hang out the window, but this is a very bad scenario if you get into an accident. Neither you nor your children ride unrestrained; your dog should not either.
As a side note, if your dog gets carsick (drools excessively or vomits), let us know, we have medication that can help.
Once your dog is comfortable getting in and out of the car, go for short rides around the block. Progress to rides that end at happy places, like the ice cream stand or a park. You can even bring them to the clinic for a “happy visit.” Just tell the receptionist why you are here–they will give cuddles and treats and let your pet walk in and out of an exam room for a yummy reward.
Once you are ready for the trip to your dog’s appointment, remember to play calm, soothing music. Only classical music has been shown to reduce stress in dogs. If your dog is in a carrier, place it in a safe, level place, preferably on the floor behind the front seats. Covering the carrier may also help create a comforting environment. You can use Adaptil (a dog pheromone) to spray in the carrier and/or car 10-15 minutes before the trip. Remember to use a seat belt if your dog is not in a carrier.
Bring your dog hungry! Our yummy treats will be more likely to help. You can even bring a favorite treat from home. Bringing a favorite toy or stuffed kong may help to distract your pet as well.
Once you arrive, feel free to leave your dog in the car if he is more comfortable there. Just let us know you are here and our “concierge service” takes over! We can escort you directly to an exam room to avoid the chaos of the lobby. It’s all about your individual pet and what makes them feel the most secure.
Once you arrive, we will spray a bandana with Adaptil for your dog to wear during his visit.
Our goal is to make every veterinary visit a Fear Free one!
Watch for our next post about preparing to take a cat to the vet. While you wait, you can read more about Fear Free on our website.
In case you missed it our last post: What are Fear Free Vet Visits?