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Behavioral Health: Addressing Anxiety and Stress During Routine Pet Wellness Exams

If you take your pet to the vet, it's important to consider their physical and mental health. In this blog post, the vets from Natick will provide tips to help keep your furry friend comfortable during their check-up.

For many pet owners, routine check-ups are essential to maintaining their pet's health. However, these visits to the vet can often be a source of anxiety and stress for our furry friends. Just as a child may dread a visit to the doctor, pets can feel a similar apprehension when confronted with unfamiliar surroundings and unusual procedures.

In this article, we'll look at the signs of distress, understand their impact, and give tips on keeping your pet calm during his next visit to the vet in Natick.

Symptoms of Anxiety and Stress in Pets

As a pet owner, it is essential to ensure your pet's well-being, mainly when they are in unfamiliar or potentially stressful situations, such as a visit to the vet. To address their discomfort, the first step is to recognize the signs of anxiety or stress in your pet.

Here are some common behaviors to watch for:

  1. Hiding or attempting to escape: Dogs might try to retreat to a corner or hide under a chair. Cats often seek refuge in their carrier or attempt to flee.
  2. Vocalizations: Whining, meowing, growling, or even hissing can all be signs that your pet is uncomfortable.
  3. Shaking or trembling: This is especially common in smaller dogs, though any pet check-up can exhibit this when they're nervous.
  4. Increased salivation or panting: This can clearly indicate stress, especially in dogs.

Steps to Reduce Anxiety & Stress 

Visiting the vet doesn't have to be a stressful ordeal. Paying attention to his emotional needs and preparing in advance can make the experience much more pleasant for both of you.

Here are some helpful strategies to help your pet feel at ease during his next visit:

  1. Familiarize them with the environment: Before the appointment, take your pet to the clinic to familiarize them with the surroundings.
  2. Use calming aids: Talk to your vet about available products, such as calming sprays, to help ease your pet's nerves.
  3. Bring their favorite toy or blanket:  Just like humans have comfort items, pets also have items that can provide them with a sense of familiarity and safety.
  4. Consultation on medication: Consult with the vet about calming medication. They can benefit pets with extreme anxiety. These are usually reserved for pets that cannot be calmed through other means. 
  5. Offer positive reinforcement: To make the experience more positive for your furry friend, you could consider giving them treats, offering praise, or petting them.
  6. A pet should arrive with an appetite: If your pet feels a bit hungry, it may be more responsive to treats during a vet visit. This lets your vet use your pet's preferred snacks as a delicious distraction. You could consider not feeding your pet breakfast on the appointment day and bringing their favorite treats along instead.
  7. Stay calm: Pets can pick up on your emotions. If you're anxious about the visit, they might be too. Ensure you're relaxed and reassuring. 

The Impact of Anxiety & Stress on Pets

It is crucial to recognize signs of anxiety or stress in your pets. When our pets experience such emotions, it can trigger several physiological and behavioral changes, such as a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, and they may become aggressive or overly submissive.

It's also worth noting that these conditions can compromise the accuracy of some diagnostic tests. Moreover, these emotions can strain the trust bond between the pet and its owner. As a result, what might have been a routine cat or dog check-up can turn into a traumatic experience if not handled appropriately. Therefore, being vigilant and proactive in ensuring your pet's emotional well-being is essential to maintain a healthy and harmonious relationship.

Post-Visit care 

After your pet's veterinary visit, dedicate some time to them and make it a quality one. You can play with them, take them out for treats, or cuddle with them. This will help your pet relate the vet visit to a positive experience, which will make future visits more comfortable and stress-free.

While routine wellness exams are vital for your cat or dog's physical health in our Natick, we should not overlook their behavioral well-being. With the right preparation and aftercare, vet visits can be a relaxing experience for both you and your pet.

Remember, a happy pet is a healthy pet!

Is it time to schedule your furry friend's yearly wellness exam? Please get in touch with our vets in Natick to book an appointment. 

New Patients Welcome

Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Natick companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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