We all want our pets to grow up happy and healthy, and to be with us for as long as possible!
But for this to happen, visits to the vet should be as normal as they are frequent.
And not only when our pets are young and vaccination boosters and deworming imply at least monthly visits. Veterinarian visits should be maintained regularly throughout life, according to the individual needs of each animal.
So be well prepared and do not hesitate. Follow our tips and take your pet to the vet without fear!
1. WHEN to take your pet to the vet?
The arrival of a new pet to the family is always an unforgettable moment, which should be prepared in the best way. But besides the love, affection, bed and toys that await at home, as soon as your pet is settled in, it is necessary to schedule the first visit to the vet!
This visit will serve not only to assess the health status of your pet and define the most appropriate vaccination, deworming and nutritional plans, but also to initiate your pet in what should become a new routine.
It is the ideal time to ask all your many questions and to pass all the information you have about your pet’s origins and past history. But above all, this visit will be an excellent opportunity for your pet to have a very positive first experience. Remember, we only get one chance at a first impression, so make it count.
If your pet starts early on, relating visits to the vet with happy moments, all future ones will come more naturally for your pet.
2. BEFORE taking your pet to the vet
To guarantee that your first visit to the vet is a success, there is a lot of homework to be done!
Start by getting your pet used to being playfully poked and prodded in different areas of the body. Do this gradually and always rewarding permission. You can insist especially on the areas where they don’t usually like to be touched, such as the ears, paws and tail. This way, you will make your pet feel more comfortable during the physical examination at the vet.
Reward your pet with cookies or treats when relaxed, so that your pet relates the offers to moments of tranquility. In the future, it will be easier for your pet to repeat the desired behavior.
Another great tip is to allow your pet to get used to the carrier, which is specially designed for cats or small dogs. This is done keeping the carrier accessible in the environment at all times, with a blanket and one of your pet’s favorite toys inside, so that he can get in and out when he feels like it. That way, your pet will be more comfortable using the carrier and will not associate its presence solely when going to the vet.
Likewise, if your dog is of medium or large size, get your dog used to using the harness attached to the seat belt. Besides being mandatory for all animals that are not using the carrier, this equipment still makes it possible for your dog to enjoy the ride and the stimulus of the outside world.
Get your pet used to riding in the car. To begin with, do not give your pet any food right before travel, thus avoiding nausea and vomiting. Whilst keeping the car turned off, and only if your pet is calm, offer his favorite snacks. Then do the same with the engine running. Then do the same with the car in motion. At first, choose to turn off the radio and avoid having the air conditioning on at full blast. This way your pet can gradually get used to this space and all the new noises and vibrations of the moving vehicle. Just let your pet ease into learning how to ride in a car. Your patience is key.
Especially if you have a dog, take your pet on car rides and go to fun places, not only just to go to the vet. Places like the park, the beach, or to a friend’s or family’s place your pet already knows and enjoys being with. And whenever possible, when you have to go to the vet for whatever reason, take advantage of this and make social visits with your pet, asking the staff to pamper him with treats and cookies so that your pet associates them with a good place.
Dogs that have unpredictable reactions to the approach of other animals or people should be early used to wearing a muzzle, for everyone’s safety. This way, when needed at the vet, they will already be familiar with its use and will not feel threatened by it.
3. When you’re AT THE VET with your pet
For animals that get anxious around other animals and people, it may be better to schedule visits first thing in the morning, when delays are less likely to occur and they are normally less busy. Or better yet, ask your vet for help determining the best time for your visits, according to their usual schedule, so that you can avoid busy times.
Also, if your pet is full of energy, it might be a good idea to tire them out a bit before heading to the vet. This can be done at home, using challenges and games, or even going out, with a nice walk before the visit.
If there are online forms to fill out, do it in time so that the visit to the vet can go more smoothly and quickly. Otherwise, arrive a few minutes earlier to the clinic and bring all the necessary documentation to enter into the system.
While you wait your turn, keep your pet in the carrier or properly restrained on a leash, safe and quiet (and also muzzled, if needed). And no matter how gentle your faithful friend is, don’t force your pet to approach other animals. If other pets (or your own) are fearful and stressed, it may not be the perfect place to make new friends. For cats, placing the carrier on higher ground or completely covering them with a towel or cloth can make a difference, providing them with a calmer, more controlled environment.
During the visit, stay calm and quiet, following all the vet’s directions. Take your pet’s favorite biscuits/snacks and use them for distraction during uncomfortable procedures, such as vaccines and other injectables. In some cases, your presence may leave your pet even more anxious. Don’t feel bad if you need to step outside and leave your pet in the care of the vet team. They are trained professionals who love pets, so rest assured your pet is in good hands.
In addition to all these tips, it may also be good to use medication to prevent vomiting during transport for animals that get sick easily. And in some cases, also the use of tranquilizer pheromones, available for dogs and cats, which serve to convey security, helping them to relax and adapt to challenging situations. Talk to your pet’s vet and ask for advice on these products.
Visits to the vet can be even better and more positive!
And if at any point, one of them doesn’t go as expected, don’t punish your pet. It will only add to the anxiety, fear and distrust, foregoing the positive training and trust built thus far.
Be tolerant and patient, always rewarding good behavior with praise and yummy snacks. You’ll see visiting the vet will become a fantastic and rewarding experience for your pet, not only for their health but also their well-being.
Never forget your pet’s visits to the vet, by scheduling them on Petable, a free app for iOS and Android, where you can create reminders for all your pet’s life events: