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How To Prepare Your Pet for Smoother Vet Visits

There’s no doubt about it, a trip to the vet’s office can be pretty daunting for both us and our pets. Whether it’s worrying over a busy waiting room with other animals around or stress about what might happen in the consultation room, anxiety for all involved can often run high. 


Top Tips for Ensuring Smoother Vet Visits

So how can you make the whole experience more relaxing for yourself and your pet? 

Stay calm yourself

The first thing you must try and do is reduce your own worry and anxiety. If you are worried then your pet will sense this apprehension, so do what you can to manage your own emotions; deep breaths, meditation, exercise or a calming tea before your appointment can help. 

Plan your visit

Cartoon of dog sitting happily with hands holding a stethoscope to his chest.
Have some treats on hand for your vet to give to your pet, that way the vet becomes friend not foe. ©Zigzag

If other animals in the waiting room concern you, phone ahead and explain. You will probably be able to wait in the car or outside the practice until it’s your turn to be called in.

Ask which appointment times are quietest and book those if you need to be in and out quickly. 

Help your pet stay relaxed

Make your pet as comfortable as possible to travel to the vet and whilst there. If they are in a cage or carrier, have familiar bedding or toys in with them, so they feel safe and relaxed. Anything that smells like home will help them to relax. 

Do pretend vet visits

Generally, pets get quite scared going to the vet because for most healthy pets they only go once a year. At this time they tend to get a thermometer put up their bottom and an injection, so it never makes for the most fun trip out. Familiarize your pet with a trip to the vet’s when they aren’t going to actually be examined. Go in, visit the waiting room and leave. We can assure you, people do it all the time and the staff always wants the most pleasant experience for your pet too. Again if you’re worried about doing this, phone ahead and let them know. The office will give you times when it’s convenient for you to do a practice visit. 

Make it rewarding

When you go for your appointment, you can help your pet remain calm by soothing with your voice or touch. If you have a puppy or dog, you could take something with you for them to chew on or a LickiMat® for them to focus on whilst they get examined. For cats and other small furries a favorite toy or snack can help them relax. Most vets will do so anyway, but have some treats on hand for your vet to give to your pet, that way the vet becomes friend not foe

Use calming products

For pets that are really anxious, you can purchase calming pheromone sprays and collars to help ease their anxiety. In extreme cases, if your pet is very distressed, your vet will prescribe a light sedative for you to give them prior to future vet visits. 

Don’t worry or panic if your pet isn’t on their best behavior. It’s a stressful unfamiliar environment, so behaving out of character isn’t unusual. There’s no need to feel judged or worried – we can assure you – the vets, nurses and practice staff will have seen it all. 

About the Author

Lisa Milleret, Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour (DipCAPBT Hons), ICAN Certified Animal Behaviourist is part of the Zigzag Puppy App Experts Team. Lisa grew up with a love for all animals but she always had a particular affinity with dogs and horses. She began studying with COAPE in 2007 and took the plunge in setting up her animal behavior practice in 2012 following completion of the level 5 diploma qualification. She has also worked with many rescue organizations including local dogs’ homes and breed specific rescues for beagles and basset hounds and she has a particular interest in teaching dog safety to children within schools.

The Zigzag logoZigzag* is a puppy training app with a difference, rather than focusing solely on obedience we take puppy guardians on a journey through Life Skills and important developmental stages, to hopefully give them happy, confident and well-behaved puppies, with an understanding that puppies and dogs aren’t robots, they have big feelings, and that’s ok!


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