Taking your cat to the vet might be one of the most dreaded things – next to cleaning up dog poop after a long winter. Veterinary visits have been associated with much fear and anxiety for not only pets, but also pet owners. Fear-free veterinary visits have been a more recent shift in veterinary medicine, aiming at relieving some of this anticipated anxiety. Multiple steps can be taken to help reduce the stress and anxiety of a veterinary visit.

It is recommended to familiarize your pet with the carrier and make it a safe, fun place to explore. Limit the amount of food offered prior to their visit to reduce the risk of carsickness and allow for more treats to be offered, making the visit rewarding and enjoyable.

When scheduling your pet’s appointment, you may inquire about scheduling during a less-busy time of day, or call the clinic’s receptionist when you arrive to have someone get you from your car when an exam room is available.
Many veterinary clinics designate specific dog and cat waiting area and exam rooms. Products with calming pheromones may be diffused or sprayed to help reduce stress. When able, examinations can be performed on the pet owner’s lap, in their car, or outside.

It is thought that pets can sense fear and anxiety of those they trust. If your fears become evident, your pet may sense they have a reason to be fearful. Some pets do better away from their owner. Taking your pet to the treatment area of the clinic may offer distractions and prevent fearfulness.

Preventative care medicine is important. Don’t be a scaredy-cat. Let your veterinarian and the clinic staff work with you and your pet to help take the “pet” out of petrified with these fear-free steps.

Dr TJ