Every single veterinary professional became part of this profession because of an overwhelming desire to help animals. Unfortunately, many procedures we perform, such as blood draws, nail trims, and vaccinations, can be unsettling or uncomfortable for pets. As people who are dedicated to promoting animal welfare—physical, mental, and emotional—the Southern Crossing Animal Hospital team strives to reduce each and every pet’s anxiety and stress through gentle handling and restraint techniques, and a variety of other Fear Free methods.
Top tips to reduce your pet’s fear, anxiety, and stress
You may not realize your pet is stressed during their veterinary appointment, but we can pick up on subtle cues, and figure out the best way to make the exam fun and stress-free. Here are a few of the top tips to help soothe your pet’s anxiety, and create a positive experience:
- Bring your pet in hungry — Food is often the highest value reward we can offer pets. Similar to making friends as a young child, we share snacks to form a relationship, which works much better if your furry friend is hungry. The morning of your pet’s appointment, feed only a small amount. Also, let us know your pet’s favorite treat, and we’ll stock up, or you can bring your pet’s snacks from home.
- Learn to read your pet’s body language — Learning a new language can be challenging, but understanding how to read your pet’s body language will help you pick up on stress and anxiety, and you then can take the proper steps to diminish those negative feelings. Keep in mind that many body language signals are often misunderstood, such as tail wagging and yawning. While most people believe a wagging tail signals a friendly dog, the rest of a dog’s body language must also be considered to understand the big picture. A hard stare, tense mouth, a body that’s leaning forward, and a tightly wagging tail, is considered a warning signal to back off. A yawn can indicate your pet is sleepy, but it’s highly unlikely they are feeling tired while out of their element, and a pet who yawns at a veterinary hospital is often signaling anxiety and stress.
- Desensitize your pet at home — An excellent way to help reduce your pet’s stress and anxiety about common procedures at veterinary hospitals is spending time desensitizing them to uncomfortable tasks, such as nail trims and ear cleanings—pets do not appreciate the health benefits of clean ears and properly trimmed nails. At home, teach your pet that touching and manipulating paws and ears means tasty snacks, and nail trims and ear cleanings will become much easier, for your pet and yourself.
- Stop by with your pet for happy visits — If something unpleasant happened each time you went to a particular place, you’d be nervous about stepping foot in that building again. The same holds true for your pet. During veterinary visits, vital vaccinations are administered with a sharp needle, or if your pet is ill, they may require hospitalization in an unfamiliar place. By simply dropping by for a visit filled with pets, praise, and treats, your pet will soon associate our hospital with positive experiences.
- Ask our team about pre-visit pharmaceuticals to help relieve your pet’s anxiety — Some pets are so anxious around strangers, or leaving home, that they become so agitated, they can harm themselves or others. These nervous pets are ideal candidates for pre-visit, at-home medications to reduce anxiety. The medications are not strong enough to fully sedate your pet, but will help take off the edge, and alleviate heightened stress levels. If your pet is a ball of nerves when leaving your home, let us know, so we can prescribe an appropriate anxiety-relieving medication to give before the appointment.
By taking the time and effort to soothe your pet’s anxiety about new situations, we can provide better veterinary care, to ensure a long, happy, and healthy life.
How Southern Crossing Animal Hospital promotes Fear Free care
As a veterinary hospital accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, we strive diligently to further veterinary medicine, and provide the absolute highest quality care to each and every pet. This goal is aided by our accreditation, and by having a veterinarian who relentlessly pursues additional certifications and specialties. A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Dr. Nollner has always demonstrated exceptional knowledge, skill, and competency in total-patient care, and has been board-certified in canine and feline practice since 1995. She has also pursued her own certification as a Fear Free veterinarian, which has proven invaluable in creating a more comfortable, relaxing veterinary setting for our beloved patients.
Does your furry friend usually quiver in anxiety when riding in the car, or wedge themself under the bed when the carrier comes out? We can help soothe your pet’s stress and calm their fears, before, during, and after each veterinary visit. Many anxious pets are still unnerved on the trip home, or may suffer from motion sickness, which can worsen their anxiety about riding in vehicles, or visiting veterinary clinics. To see what a difference Fear Free veterinary care can make in your four-legged friend, contact us to schedule your pet’s next appointment.