Top Tips for Fear-Free Veterinary Visits

We give tasty treats to help reduce your pet's vet visit anxiety.

We give tasty treats to help reduce your pet's vet visit anxiety.

Everybody wants their pets to experience less fear, anxiety and stress at their veterinary visits, and so do we at Back on Track. Our goal is for your pet to look forward to their vet visit! We embrace a low stress philosophy for veterinary visits and incorporate low stress handling techniques, including playing classical music and using anxiety reducing pheromone sprays in our exam rooms, kennels and even on ourselves! We also use tasty treats and do most of our exams on the floor. But the process for a fear free visit can start before you even leave your house.

Here are some ways you can partner with us to keep your pets happy and calmer for their veterinary visits: 

  1. Bring your pets in hungry! Not only is this helpful if they need blood work, but receiving tasty treats reinforces a more positive experience. You can bring your own treats if you know your pet enjoys a particular treat or you are worried about allergies.

  2. Use calming pheromone sprays or calming nutraceuticals such as Zylkene or Solliquin. Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats can be sprayed on anything your pet might come into contact with, including their carrier in the car, or for dogs, a bandana around their neck. Some natural calming nutraceuticals can be given orally about 30 minutes to an hour before travel. There are also some prescription anxiety-reducing medications that may be given prior to a visit. Ask our staff about what might be the best option for your pet.

  3. Adapt your pet to travel BEFORE they come to the vet. Practice short trips in the car to places other than the vets office. This is beneficial for puppies, or an older rescue pet, but especially to cats who typically don’t experience much car travel in between vet visits. The short trips will help familiarize them to the feel of a moving vehicle and the different smells. Keep carriers out at home: keep it open and put their food in there with a spray of Feliway. Being adapted to their carriers will go a long way to ease anxiety.

  4. Try not to "baby talk" or inadvertently reinforce anxious behavior in the clinic. The best way to react to an anxious pet is to speak calmly, and remain low key. If you are anxious, they will detect that and it can easily transfer to them.

  5. If your pet requires an additional restraint device to ensure everybody’s safety, such as a basket muzzle, acclimate them to the muzzle at home. Basket muzzles can allow them to be given treats and just working with them minutes a day will ensure they are comfortable with it at the vet’s office.

  6. Allow your pet to investigate the exam room while waiting on team members.

  7. If possible, incorporate “happy visits” to check their weight or just say “hi.” Remember to bring them in hungry so staff members can spoil them with some enticing treats! It is helpful to call ahead of time so we can let you know the best time to ensure a positive low key experience for your pet.

  8. Be able to recognize more subtle anxiety signs in your pet. This can be helpful in any situation. Click here for more information on canine body language.

  9. Seek help if your pet has anxiety or fear behaviors at home. A pet with generalized anxiety needs to see a veterinary behaviorist or a trainer that is well versed in current behavior theory. Any kind of aversive training can lead to more anxiety or aggression and should be avoided.

Incorporating these tips can lead to a more stress-free visit for everyone!