Keeping veterinary visits Fear Free®!
by Ontario SPCA and Humane Society | General Pet Care | September 13, 2021
Many people report their animals appearing distressed or uncomfortable during visits to the veterinarian. The sights, smells, and sounds of a veterinary office can be unsettling to some animals. Being handled by a different person for the first time (which may include some uncomfortable moments of examination or receiving a vaccine) can also make an animal wary of visiting the vet.
Follow these steps to create positive, Fear Free® experiences for your furry friend while visiting their veterinarian!
Practice makes perfect
Before your dog or cat’s first veterinary visit, practice handling them the way a veterinarian would. Gently touch and “inspect” their ears, legs, paws, and teeth. Always keep the experience positive by using praise and bite-sized treats. If your furry friend is becoming stressed or does not like you handling a certain area, then simply move onto the next area and try again another time.
If you have a busy or high-energy animal, it is a great idea to play and interact with them prior to leaving your home. This is especially true for active dogs and puppies. This will ensure they are more relaxed, which will make you more relaxed!
Make a friendly visit
If you have a puppy or new animal to your household, contact your veterinarian’s office to schedule a short “meet and greet.” Many clinics are happy to accommodate a brief hello to familiarize your companion animal with their office. Keeping the visit short and sweet will give your animal a positive association with the sights and smells of the clinic.
Be mindful of routines
Are there certain patterns or routines that you tend to follow before visiting the veterinarian? Does your furry companion only ride in the car or travel crate when they need to see their vet? How about wearing a safety harness? If so, be sure to desensitize your animal by practicing those skills at short, regular intervals, not just during veterinary visits. It will make the process of visiting the vet’s office less stressful for your animal.
Communication is key
While spending time with your animal, you have already learned their likes and dislikes, such as their favorite spot for a scratch or pet. You may also know about some sensitive spots or areas where your animal does not like to be handled. This is especially true for timid or senior animals. Tell your veterinarian if there are areas on your animal’s body that they should be mindful of. This will also help your veterinarian identify any possible causes of concern if there are new areas that cause your pet discomfort.
Click to learn more about our Fear Free® tips!
You can also look on the Fear Free® website to find Fear Free vets and best practices.
Thank you for looking after these animals
Thank you for looking after these animals — I would love to have them all in my house!