For many pet owners, taking their four-legged companions to the veterinarian can be a stressful experience, both for themselves and their pets. However, with a little bit of preparation and some creative thinking, veterinary visits can become an enjoyable and positive experience for everyone involved. Follow our Cupertino Animal Hospital team’s eight tips to make essential veterinary visits not only stress-free but also fun and rewarding for both pets and their owners.

#1: Make veterinary visits routine

One of the best ways to make veterinary visits less intimidating for pets is to start when your furry pal is young and make them a regular part of their routine. From a young age, introduce your pet to the veterinary hospital’s sights, sounds, and smells. Regular drop-ins when your pet is healthy help them acclimate to the environment and our Cupertino Animal Hospital team, reducing your furry pal’s anxiety associated with unfamiliar surroundings. Stop by with your furry pal even when you don’t have a scheduled appointment, so our team can shower them with treats and attention without needing to perform any services, such as nail trimming, blood work, or vaccination.

#2: Focus on positive reinforcement for your pet

Pets respond best to positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, petting, toys, and treats. Reward your furry pal for bravely facing our hospital by offering their favorite treats or toys during an appointment or drop-in visit. You can help your pet develop good memories and positive associations, which make future visits less daunting, by heaping praise and chin rubs on your four-legged friend to make each vet visit rewarding.

#3: Practice pet handling techniques at home

Help your pet become comfortable with being handled by practicing at home. Gently touch and manipulate their ears, paws, and mouth, mimicking what Dr. Kureshi might do during an examination. Reward your furry pal along the way with plenty of treats and praise, stopping if they resist and only proceeding if they appear comfortable. This not only helps desensitize them to being touched but also makes the examination process smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.

#4: Create a relaxing environment for your pet

On the day of a veterinary visit, create a calming atmosphere for your pet. Play soothing music during the car ride over, and drive carefully and cautiously to avoid sudden starts and stops. Spritz calming pheromone sprays onto a bandana attached to your pet’s collar or on a towel in the carrier, and bring along a favorite blanket or toy to help your pet feel secure. 

#5: Stay calm to model confident behavior for your pet

Pets are incredibly attuned to their owners’ emotions. If you’re nervous or anxious, your pet is likely to pick up on those feelings. Stay calm, speak in a soothing tone, and maintain a positive attitude throughout the visit. Your pet will take cues from you and feel more at ease.

#6: Make veterinary visits learning opportunities

Use veterinary visits as an opportunity to teach your pet new skills or reinforce existing ones. Practice basic obedience cues, such as sit, stay, or down, while at the hospital. Not only does this distract your pet from discomfort or anxiety, but doing so also helps strengthen your bond and improves their behavior in future visits.

#7: Incorporate play and interactive toys into veterinary visits

Bring along your pet’s favorite interactive toys or puzzle feeders to an appointment. Engaging your pet in play or mentally stimulating activities while waiting for the appointment can help occupy their mind and tire them out, making them calmer during the exam. Plus, doing so is a fun way to make a visit feel more like an enjoyable outing rather than a stressful event.

#8: Consider giving your pet calming supplements or medications

If your pet experiences severe anxiety or stress during veterinary visits despite your best efforts, discuss using calming supplements or medications with our team. Various over-the-counter (OTC) supplements are available, such as calming chews or pheromone sprays, that can help take the edge off your pet’s anxiety. Additionally, we can prescribe anti-anxiety medications for extremely severe cases or for specific procedures, such as nail trims and blood draws, that are particularly stressful for pets. These medications can help relax your pet and make the veterinary experience manageable. 

With a little preparation and patience, and a positive attitude, veterinary visits can become stress-free and enjoyable experiences for pets and their owners. By implementing these stress-reducing tips, you can help your furry friend feel comfortable and confident during their next appointment, ensuring their health and well-being through regular veterinary care for years to come. 

Visiting the doctor can be a nerve-wracking experience for pets and people alike. If your four-legged friend becomes anxious and stressed during veterinary visits, discuss the best ways to improve your pet’s experience with our Cupertino Animal Hospital team.