Despite our best efforts, a trip to the veterinarian can be a stressful event in your pet’s life. There are foreign smells, people, and sounds abound. Certain pets are indifferent about most events in life. A trip to the veterinarian is just another chance to interact with people and is not stressful at all. A portion of our patients, however, have major stress during their visit that can not only endanger the patient (your pet), but can also endanger you (the owner) and us (the hospital).
Stressful visits have their root in anxiety. Pets who are anxious will react in a manner that is unpredictable. Our staff has been trained to recognize these signs. They can be as obvious as vocalization (violent barking or hissing) to very subtle signs such as ear position. As your pet’s health care provider, it is our goal to make your pet less anxious, and therefore less stressed, during their visit. We utilize techniques such as relaxing pheromones (odors released by animals when they are calm), towels for your smaller pets to rest on, and treats to establish trust and reward.
We encourage you to take the first step if you suspect your pet may have a stressful visit to the veterinarian. A week before his or her appointment, request a prescription from us that will provide anxiety reduction and thus make the appointment smooth and uneventful. Anti-anxiety medications are generally very safe and when used appropriately have little to no impact on your pet’s internal organ function. We suggest giving these medications at least 2 hours prior to the visit. The reason for this window is because that once a pet suspects a stressful event may be coming, the effect of the medication is reduced. We will generally have a range of doses to use since every dog and cat metabolizes a medication differently.
Even with our best efforts, there are certain pets that cannot be relaxed at the veterinarian. For those pets, we do have the option to sedate your pet with gas anesthesia or chemical sedation given through the veins or muscle. These medications can be rapidly reversed and your pet will be back to normal by the night of the visit or the following morning.
Take time to think about whether your pet may benefit from stress reduction at his or her next visit. If you think this would be helpful, give us a call!