Pet Blog | Paradise Animal Hospital: Reduce Stress at the Vet

cat-1815872_640At Paradise Animal Hospital, we have your pet’s best interest at heart. Animals (people too!) have a “fight or flight response” when it comes to stressful situations. This can manifest as either aggression (growling/barking/hissing/biting) as fight, or as panting/pacing/hiding/being skittish as flight. It can be a scary or stressful experience for a dog or cat to come to the vet’s office. Our goal is to have you and your pet have a safe, pleasant experience at Paradise Animal Hospital, and not a stressful, harmful or unpleasant one, so as you may have noticed when you bring your pet to us for sick or well visits…there are a few tricks that we have integrated into our practice to make the experience more pleasant (LESS STRESSFUL!) for your pet.

In our exam rooms and our large treatment room, which you can see from two examination rooms, rather than place your pet on a cold metal table, there may be a slip-free mat or towel on the table (or one may be placed by your veterinarian or technician before your pet’s feet touch the surface). Sometimes, we will bring a towel in from the treatment room (which often is because we have sprayed it with species appropriate calming pheromone). We may even cover your cat’s carrier with this pheromone-treated towel prior to being examined, as this can make cats feel safer as well as receiving the pheromone.

What is a pheromone? A pheromone is a hormone that animals produce and can smell (but is only detectable by animals of that species). There are commercially available synthetic versions of dog and cat pheromones primarily used as a calming device for the animal.
When a cat is in its carrier after the doctor has come into the exam room, if the carrier opens from the top or the top half of the carrier has been removed, we prefer to examine the cat in the carrier, as this makes them feel safer.

For dogs, sometimes examining them on the floor with them standing is useful. Sometimes our doctors will even sit on the floor with the patient! Doing so keeps our doctors on the same level as the dogs, and therefore is less intimidating and stressful to them.
Treats! We love to give animals treats during the exam, during vaccines and during nail trims. If they are focused on the food they will be less stressed.

Anti-anxiety and stress-reducing medications: Sometimes, we will decide the safest and most beneficial thing for your pet will be to bring your pet back another day. If your pet is experiencing a problem, we may need to give your pet anti-anxiety or stress-lowering medications in order to facilitate us treating your pet. If it is a well exam or a toe nail trim, we may prescribe medications for you to give your pet by mouth prior to coming back. Please follow the instructions, as far as how early to administer the medication prior to visit so it is effective.

How can you make your vet visit stress-free?

Your pet may “feed” off of your anxiety. Don’t pull too hard on the leash. Speak in a low, calm voice. Be friendly and eager to greet everyone at the clinic. Stop by when no exam is needed, encourage people to give your pet treats. Purchase a carrier that opens from the top or offer to remove the top half of traditional cat carriers.

Bring your pets favorite treat with you (or catnip for cats that don’t like food treats) or bring your pets favorite toy. In some instances, bringing two pets will help the one being examined be less stressed. Do not bring two pets if they do not get along or if one is protective of the other.

There are many ways the doctors and technicians at Paradise Animal Hospital can help make coming to “The Doctor’s Office” less stressful for your pet. If you have questions about ways to make it less stressful for your individual pet, please call 410-744-4224.