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A Trip to the Veterinarian— photo courtesy of wheat ridge animal hospital

It Can Be a Good Thing! By Kathe r i n e T u c k e r- M o h l , V M D Sen i or A s s oc iat e Eme rg e n c y V e t e rina ria n Whe at R i d ge Anim al H o s pita l

Today starts out so well. A brisk walk around the block, and a long late morning nap on the couch. Then comes the question: “Want to go for a car ride?” My response: an emphatic “Yes!” (punctuated by a vigorous tail wag with a whole body wiggle). But instead of a trip to the lake for a swim or to the store to pick out a new toy, we arrive at the veterinary clinic. All of the sudden my tail becomes glued between my legs, and I start trembling in fear. Echoing around me are the cries of other dogs, and I fear that the worst is coming—what if I never leave this place? When the veterinarian arrives in the exam room, my normal exuberant kisses are replaced by a snarl, and I am issued that embarrassing and uncomfortable muzzle. After what seems like an eternity, filled with poking and prodding, I am released from this prison, and I hastily drag my owner back to the car before she changes her mind. Do you know a pet like this? For many dog and cat owners, a trip to the veterinarian can be a source of significant stress and anxiety. In some cases, owners may forego bringing their pets in for annual wellness exams because the experience can feel so traumatizing. Here are some tips that can help make veterinary visits a little easier for you and your pet.

the lips to examine the teeth and gums. Reward your pet’s good behavior at home.

2 Help your pet adjust to car rides by

3 Bringitemsthatcarryafamiliarscent

4 Make trips to the veterinary clinic

5 Remember that your pet will detect

6 For cats, habituation to a carrier can

taking very short rides to start, and then gradually extend the length of the drive. After every successful trip, reward your pet with treats and attention. for your pet, such as a favorite toy, t-shirt, or towel. that do not involve examinations or procedures. Just go in and spend some time in the waiting room, visit with the staff, reward with treats and then go back home. This helps your pet get used to the clinic and sets the pet up for a less stressful experience when it’s time for an exam or procedure. and respond to your own anxiety and stress. Remain calm during the visit and your pet should respond in kind. be key to reducing the stress that is frequently associated with transportation. A carrier with an easily removable top is ideal. Leave the carrier open at home with some comfortable bedding so your cat sees the carrier as a comfortable and secluded hiding space.

1 Rehearse

the veterinary visit at home. If you have the opportunity to start this with your pet at a young age, all the better. Familiarize your pet with common parts of the doctor’s physical exam, including touching the pet’s feet and lifting

plan to minimize waiting time and contact with other animals. At our clinic we have instituted special VIF (very important feline) appointments. Upon arrival, these felines are escorted directly to a designated exam room, where they are given the opportunity to explore the feline friendly spaces and hiding spots before the exam begins. Contact with other animals is minimized, and the goal of these slower paced appointments is to make wellness care for felines less stressful for both cats and their owners. Remember, our pets are masters at hiding signs of illness. Just because your pet isn’t “acting” sick does not mean that he or she does not need a wellness exam. Your veterinarian will thoroughly examine your pet and discuss a plan for keeping your dog or cat at optimum health.

7 Let your veterinary team know if For more information:

80    Fall 2011 | The American Dog Magazine

your pet tends to become stressed or anxious at the vet. Discuss a

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