Hartwood Library

Tips to Relieve Stress at Your Veterinarian Appointment


Cat TipsThere are many cats that become very difficult at the Veterinarians. Although it is completely natural for your cat to translate its fear into scratching and biting, no one (not even the cat) wants this type of behavior. Here are some things to help relieve your cats stress and your frustration.

  1. The carrier – make their carrier a home away from home. Keep the carrier out at all times close to where they eat and sleep. Line it with a comfy blanket and drop some treats and toys in. Use a top loading carrier or one that the top unclips. This will allow the cat to be mostly examined in the bottom of the carrier where he feels most comfortable.
  2. The car – Get your cat used to traveling in the car preferably while he is young. Take small steps starting with just getting him in the carrier and carrying him around the house, then start with small drives around the block. Before your appointment, take your time to get him in the carrier to reduce stress.
  3. Hiding – Bring a towel from home to drape over his carrier while traveling and in the lobby. Cats feel more secure when they have somewhere to hide.
  4. Travel on an empty stomach – Some cats can get motion sickness in the car, so it is best to not feed a meal before their appointment. If your cat is hungry this may make him more inclined to take treats at his appointment which can help to calm him as well.
  5. Feliway – Feliway mimics the feline facial pheromone. This product comes in a plug-in (for cats stressed in-home) or spray (great for spraying a blanket to bring to the appointment). Feliway can have a natural calming effect.


Dog Tips

Many owners struggle with their dogs at the Veterinarians because they become anxious or overly excited. Dogs can quickly snap out of fear once in this state. The key is the help keep the appointment stress-free (for both you and your dog) from the start!

  1. Exercise – Exercise your dog with a long walk (30 mins – 1 hr), run, game of fetch or bike ride before your appointment. Draining excess energy will help your dog stay calm and relaxed.
  2. The car – If your dog stresses in the car, work on desensitizing him to car rides. Putting your dog in his crate with a blanket draped over for the car ride can eliminate anxiety. Start slowly by making it a positive experience. Feeding him in the parked car is a great start.
    For more information read this “Help Desensitizing Your Dog to Travel in the Car” article
  3. The arrival – When you arrive at the office, walk your dog around the property so that they can become familiar with the different sights and smells. In the middle of the walk allow him to explore and relieve himself. Once he is calm, enter the lobby with your dog following after you.
  4. The lobby – Keep your dog’s attention on you and do not allow him to fixate on other dogs or pet owners. If he begins to stare, make a “kissy noise” or call his name to regain his attention, reward him for listening. Reward all calm behavior. Do not baby talk or pet him when he is showing signs of anxiety, stress or overexcitement (whining, panting, hiding, shaking). If you do, you will tell him you approve of this behavior or you are in fact fearful too. For very nervous dogs, bring your dog and sit in the lobby (without an appointment) and leave when he is calm.
  5. Pet owners – Limit attention from other dogs and pet owners, this will help to decrease your dog’s excitement level and anxiety. Tell the other pet owners that you are working with your dog to keep him relaxed during visits.
  6. Keep it positive – Make sure to keep your attitude upbeat. Your dog is very sensitive to your energy and body language. Stay calm, and speak in a soft tone. Bring your dog in hungry with his favorite treats and/or chew toy to make the entire visit fun!
  7. D.A.P (adaptil) – This product is a synthetic canine pheromone that mimics the hormone released in the mother mammary glands shortly after birth. D.A.P can have a calming effect and help your dog to relax. It comes in a spray, plug-in or collar.