Whether it be an annual health exam, routine vaccinations or an unwell pet, bringing your beloved companion to the vet can be a worrisome experience for everyone. While a lot of the stress depends on your pet’s personality and the reason for the visit, there are definitely some things that can be done to make the visit as smooth and stress-free as possible.
The preparation begins before the appointment is made. While booking your appointment, don’t be shy to let us know all of your concerns. We can do our best to allow the appropriate amount of time for your appointment and recommend the best time of day that allows us to address all of your pet’s concerns. If your pet has been vomiting or unwell, and we may be recommending diagnostics or treatments, your veterinarian will likely need more time with your pet than for a routine exam and vaccines. These are all helpful things to bring to our attention at the time of booking. It is also helpful to know if this is a second opinion or if your pet has been to another veterinary clinic so we can have the complete history and medical records sent to our office prior to the appointment. We review your pet’s past medical records to determine which tests have already been run and which treatments have already been attempted.
Please do your best to be on time. Unfortunately, when you show up late, this cascades over into the veterinarian’s subsequent appointments. This causes stress to the clients left waiting and the veterinarian who tends to fall further and further behind. Even our pets can pick up on this stress and react poorly to it. Everyone can be left feeling a bit on edge without really knowing why.
To decrease waiting room stress and increase safety, species-appropriate restraint is recommended. This means leashing your dog, preferably not with a flexible leash and keeping your cat in a carrier. A cat is less afraid in a carrier than when held in your arms and is less likely to bolt or scratch anyone. Keeping your dog leashed and close to you at all times prevent dog fights and exposure to potentially infectious illness. Some dogs are stressed, scared or sick and don’t want to greet other dogs. Ask permission before you let your dog approach another owner’s dog. It also helps to let your dog relieve herself before coming in, but if an accident happens, please let our receptionists know right away so we can get it cleaned up quickly. Don’t stress about this. It happens. We see it every day and know dogs will react differently in a strange environment or when feeling unwell or in pain. We are here to help, we don’t mind cleaning up a little mess along the way!
Be prepared for your exam. Write down any questions you may have and please don’t be afraid to ask. We are here to help and to listen, so ask away! Your questions may be related to your animal’s health or treatments but they may also be regarding the cost of the treatments or recommendations. Even minor details can have major meaning to your vet while taking a thorough history. Slight changes in behaviour or routine can be the red flags your vet is looking for. Don’t be shy to discuss financials with your vet. These are all important questions. To minimize financial, mental and emotional pain, it helps to set a budget for each pet before something goes wrong. Ask for a written estimate and tell your veterinarian your budget ahead of time. You won’t be judged and it helps us work out the best treatment plan that works for you and your family.
Submitted by Dr. Yvette Maclean