One of my colleagues once spoke a phrase that would forever change my perspective: “your pet isn’t giving you a hard time; your pet is having a hard time”.
I think this rings particularly true when most pets are in a veterinary setting. So often we see hissing cats and barking dogs being scolded by their embarrassed owners for not behaving when coming in for a visit. No one wants to have the “bad” dog or the “mean” cat – but all we see is that your dog or cat is scared. And reasonably so! You and I know this vet visit is for the greater good – but they don’t. We are strangers. We poke and prod at the places that hurt. We often don’t listen to the signals they are giving us that they are painful or scared and want us to stop because we have to examine them thoroughly. What we are doing can be scary, despite all of our best efforts to avoid it.
So what can you do to help your pet when they’re at the vet?
1. Keep cat carriers up off the floor and keep them covered with a towel. Bonus points if you cover the carrier in a towel sprayed with Feliway!
2. If your dog is fearful of other dogs, try to sit away from other pets, or alert our front staff that you will be walking outside until your appointment begins.
3. Are you worried about an altercation between your dog and another dog in the waiting area? Come in and let us know. We have other options and strategies for getting your dog in and out safely.
4. Would you feel more comfortable being put immediately into a room on arrival? We can put an alert on your file and you can call in advance to ensure you and your scared pup are never left waiting in a situation that makes you feel unsafe.
5. Avoid showing up too far in advance of your appointment if your pet is fearful. Long wait times can increase anxiety and create a “build-up” effect.
Coming to the vet can be an unpleasant experience, but we can all work together to make it easier on everyone. Just ask if you feel your pet needs special accommodations.
By Jenna Marsh