7 Tips to Prepare for Your Pet’s First Vet Visit
The first visit to the vet can be nerve-wracking both for you and your pet. It’s only natural for them to be nervous. Your furry friend doesn’t understand the point of a veterinary visit. But you can ease this stress significantly by helping them prepare for that first vet visit. Taking care of your pet while they’re scared can become quite a task. Fortunately, we have six things you can do to get your pet ready and prepare for your first visit to the vet.
Book a video consultation with an experienced veterinarian within minutes.
- Professional vet advice online
- Low-cost video vet consultations
- Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
1. Help your pet adjust to the carrier
Presumably, you will be giving your pet a car ride to the vet. This means that they need to be comfortable on the way. You don’t want your cat to throw up before it even reaches the vet! It is necessary to get your pet acclimated to the pet carrier. Having trials at home can help. You can put your pet inside the carrier for a few minutes indoors to help them get used to it. That way, your pet will not be uncomfortable on the way to the vet visit.
Another thing you need to get the hang of is the placement of the pet carrier. For maximum stability, place the carrier securely on the floor of the backseat. Placing the carrier on the seat can risk tipping over or falling off. Don’t forget to keep a constant eye on your pet to check for signs of distress on the way!
2. Make a list of your pet’s unique behavioral patterns
Your pet very likely has specific unique behavioral patterns. It is often seen that pets exclusively communicate with their family or owners through body language. In such cases, it will be your duty to take note of these uniquely expressive behavioral patterns. They can signify aggression or anxiety. For instance, you would know best when and why your dog is feeling stressed or afraid. Also, these could be signs of distress from your pet. In any case, there are certain pet behaviors that you simply cannot ignore.
You should also make a list of any specific or chronic health conditions your pet has. This might be any skin disease, allergies, infections, etc.
Helping the veterinary team by passing on these behavioral and health signs can be a huge help. It will allow them to view your pet as a "known" patient, which means that their behavior and well-being become better understood by the veterinary team. It is a great way to ensure that your pet receives medical care sensitive to their behavior and needs. It also familiarizes the veterinary team with your pet's reception of strangers and medical care in general.
3. Use positive reinforcements during the drive and the vet visit
Much like you, your pet enjoys being praised! Gentle verbal reinforcements and affirmations can be a great way to ensure that your pet is at ease. It is extremely natural for pets to be high-strung and nervous when introduced to a new environment, where strangers handle them. That is why it is always a great prepping step to get the pet to listen to sounds or words that are otherwise calming to them. Instructions that they identify or comprehend can help them feel grounded.
4. Introduce your pet to being carefully handled
Making your pet feel comfortable at home is the best way to ease their fear of veterinarians. Having your dog remain calm while being handled will make everyone's lives easier. Examine your pet's teeth and run your fingers gently along his ribs once or twice a week to ease him into it. With increased familiarity, he is less likely to be stressed out when he sees the vet doing it as well.
5. Remain calm and collected during the visit
Animals can pick up on their owner’s feeling much better than fellow humans, and if you’re feeling anxious or stressed at the vet’s office, your dog or cat will notice. They’re like emotional sponges that soak up what humans feel around them and either mimic that behavior or become defensive in response. It can be a worry-inducing experience going to the vet, as you never know what you might learn, but you should try to stay calm and positive, so your pet will benefit too.
When you and your pet develop positive coping skills like those listed above, they will have a positive and safe experience at the veterinarian's office. Remember that taking your dog to the vet is not always a bad thing and that he may need some reassurance if he needs to go. Your dog will have a better attitude toward the vet if you prepare, tactfully and understand his needs.
6. Consider anti-anxiety treatments or medications if needed
When cats visit their vet, they often find the experience overwhelming. In the veterinary clinic, a cat is removed from its familiar surroundings, driven in a noisy car, and placed in an area where other animals and people are. Once they have been taken into the exam room, they will be examined by an unfamiliar person who will administer a variety of treatments. When all these things happen at once, it's no wonder that your cat is so frightened and stressed.
Vets prescribe anxiety medications based on a pet's weight and stress level while also considering other medications the pet may be on. The medications should be administered well before the appointment. Anxiety medications are not recommended for pets with signs of organ failure or diminished ability to metabolize medications.
7. Purchase pet insurance
Once you get a pet, getting them insured is one of the most crucial factors you should consider. Remember, your pet may fall ill and you could bear significant expenses for their checkups, vaccines, etc. Pet insurance covers different medical costs of your pet and helps you avoid the sudden financial burden in times of any medical emergency. Pet insurance policies cover the cost of a vet visit, thereby reducing your total expenditure. Pet-owners can select from a range of insurance policies that have different coverage. It would be best to go through the terms and conditions of each policy and make a choice accordingly.
Depending on your pet's health, you should decide what to do after the appointment. You may only need to schedule a follow-up appointment after a routine exam. The vet will tell you what signs to watch for and when to contact them if they have a health condition or have had an emergency. You will also learn how to administer any medications your pet requires. Be sure to schedule any follow-up appointments that are recommended.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your pet’s vet visit or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.