Managing Fearful Visits to the Vet

Our patients’ fear of veterinary visits is one of the most significant barriers we face when providing medical care. Your concern about the stress of your pets’ visits, as well as the changes that occur physiologically in frightened pets, makes addressing this fear an important part of our approach at Aztec Animal Clinic.

We offer our canine patients unlimited treats during examinations and vaccinations. We don’t want your pets to feel trapped, so we use minimal restraint during all procedures, including nail trims and when drawing blood for lab work. Plus, allowing our patients to remain on the floor or the bench for examinations has changed the dynamic in the exam room. Many of our veterinarians spend visits sitting or kneeling on the floor to get “up close and personal” if patients seem more comfortable there. When necessary for safety, we prefer to use basket muzzles instead of traditional muzzles, as these allow dogs to get treats, pant and even get a drink while wearing them. Light, reversible sedatives that reduce pain and anxiety also decrease the need for significant restraint during minor procedures.

We have a separate waiting area and exam rooms for Aztec’s feline patients. We use soft blankets sprayed with Feliway (a pheromone that reduces anxiety) and give our patients time to come out of their carriers and explore the room if they wish. Removing the top of the carrier, rather than using the “drag or dump” method, allows the kitty to stay put and maintain a bit of dignity at the beginning of the examination. We place the Feliway blanket on the table under the patient and use it to gently wrap the patient if we need to transport him through the treatment area. This reduces what the kitty sees and hears. When we need blood and/or urine samples, we take patients to the radiology room, which is a very quiet and calm space. Perhaps most importantly, our feline patients have their own ward where they are not subjected to the sounds of a busy hospital. We play white noise and keep traffic to a minimum in this area to decrease their stress.

We have several handouts available that address training strategies and desensitization techniques for reducing fear of hospital visits. We offer a weekly socialization class for all puppies that come to Aztec so they can develop happy associations with our clinic. Finally, we encourage our clients to talk to us about antianxiety supplements and medications. These are safe and effective products that can decrease the duress that both you and your companion experience before and during vet visits. If you would like to learn more about the options, or if you would like us to send you any of our handouts, call Aztec Animal Clinic at 505-265-4939 or email us at hello@aztecanimalclinic.com. We are committed to making our patients as comfortable as possible!

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