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

Some pets can become anxious or stressed during wellness exams, even if they're just routine check-ups. In this post, our Grand Prairie vets will discuss the signs that your pet is experiencing stress or anxiety while at the vet and provide some tips on how you can help them feel better.

Your Pet's Behavior at the Vet

Routine wellness exams are necessary for maintaining the health and well-being of our pets. However, these visits can cause high anxiety and stress for our furry companions. Just like a child may fear a doctor's visit, pets can feel similar emotions when faced with an unfamiliar environment and strange procedures.

If your pet continuously experiences negative experiences during vet visits, it can leave them traumatized, and the behavior could last for their lifetime. That's why our vets at Grand Prairie want to help you identify the signs of a stressed pet so you can take the necessary steps to manage your dog or cat's behavior during and after their exam.

Signs of Anxiety & Stress in Pets

Every owner wants to ensure their pet is comfortable and happy in every situation. Recognizing the signs of anxiety or stress in your pet is the first step in addressing their discomfort so it can then be dealt with and hopefully cured. 

If your pet is feeling stressed or anxious, whether they are at the vet or any other environment, you may notice the following: 

  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.

The Impact Anxiety & Stress Have on Pets

When pets experience stress or anxiety, it can lead to several physiological and behavioral changes. These changes could include a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, which can cause pets to become overly aggressive or submissive. It's also worth noting that some diagnostic tests may not be accurate during these conditions.

Moreover, these emotions can damage the trust bond between the pet and its owner. Thus, a routine cat or dog check-up can become a traumatic experience if not handled properly. Therefore, being proactive in ensuring your pet's emotional well-being is crucial to establishing a healthy and strong relationship.

How to make a vet visit less stressful for cats & dogs?

Trips to the vet don't have to be a stressful and difficult endeavor for your cat or dog. By paying attention to their emotional needs and preparing in advance, you can make the experience much more positive for you both and create less stress for your pet in the future.

Here are some strategies you can try to help your pet feel at ease during their next visit: 

  1. Familiarize them with the environment: Before their appointment, visit the clinic to let your pet sniff around. This can help them get accustomed to their surroundings.
  2. Use calming aids: Talk to your vet, as different products are available to help ease your pet's nerves, like calming spray.
  3. Bring their favorite toy or blanket:  Just like a child has a favorite blanket or toy for comfort, the same can be said for pets. Having something familiar can help them feel safe.
  4. Consultation on medication: Consult your 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: Treats, praise, and petting can make the experience more positive for your furry friend.
  6. A pet should arrive with an appetite:  If your pet is somewhat hungry, they may be more motivated by treats. This lets your vet use your pet's favorite snacks as a tasty distraction. You might consider skipping breakfast that morning and bringing their favorite treats with you to the appointment.
  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. 

How do you make your cat or dog less traumatized after a vet visit?

After the visit, make sure to spend some quality time with your pet to let them know everything is alright. Make time to play with them and give them lots of treats and cuddles. This can help them associate the vet visit with a positive experience, making future trips easier for them.

While routine pet wellness exams are crucial for your cat or dog's physical health, we must not neglect their behavioral health. With the proper preparation and aftercare, vet visits can be a stress-free and positive experience!

Is your cat or dog due for a wellness exam? Contact our Grand Prairie vets to book an appointment or for more tips on how to reduce your companion's stress and anxiety.

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Grand Prairie pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment at Carrier Animal Hospital.

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