How to prepare for the first vet visit
Why does my pet get stressed at the vet?
Visiting the vet can be stressful for a pet for lots of reasons. For example, your pet might encounter strange smells, or unfamiliar sounds from other nervous pets. It's understandable that this might make them a bit stressed! Fortunately, with some smart decisions early on, you can make vet visits more relaxed for you and your pet. But it's important to start with the first vet visit.
How to calm your pet during their first vet visit
The key to reducing stress at the vet is to start early in your pet's life. Here are some tips on preparing for your pet's first vet visit, which will make all later trips calmer too!
1) The first vet visit - choosing the right vet
Take your time to do some research when picking your pet's vet. Do you prefer a large veterinary clinic? Or would you like to see the same vet in a smaller local practice? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, some vets specialise in small animal care or only in cats.
Whatever you decide, the most important thing is that you and your pet feel comfortable with your choice. As such, try the clinic out and see if you get a good feeling about the service. Lastly, think about picking a vet nearby so you won’t have to drive too far in an emergency.
2) Socialise your pet at the vet early on
Pets go through a critical socialisation phase in their first months of life. During this time, your pet will learn how to interact with the world and others around them. As such, it's worth setting them up with positive experiences early on. This will shape how they see the world for the rest of their lives.
Therefore, it's a good idea to take your pet to the vet when they are still young. Make sure that they have a positive first experience, with lots of treats and attention. It’s best to avoid overwhelming your pet, so keep these visits short and sweet. Importantly, if you're comfortable and relaxed, your pet will be too.
3) Your pet's first injections
Injections are a part of life for pets from a young age and onward. Most puppies and kittens will have had their first shots but will have to be vaccinated again in due course. Your vet will keep you informed about the timing of your pet's vaccinations. However, there are ways you can help prepare your pet for this experience too.
Gently stroke your pet's paws, head, and mouth at home on a regular basis. Doing so will help to prepare your pet for being handled by the vet. In addition, lift up your puppy onto a table from time to time. This might sound odd, but the puppy will soon learn not to fear heights during check-ups. These little steps early on will make it much easier for your pet to manage many procedures throughout life.
4) Take your dog to puppy preschool
Many vets organise “puppy parties” and puppy preschool classes for new dog owners. These classes teach skills in dog training, health, first aid, and puppy behaviour. Most importantly, they are a fun opportunity to give your pup a positive early experience at the vet. Plus, your dog can socialise with the other pups while you get to know the other owners! Be sure to ask your vet about this service.
5) Consistency is important
Lastly, inform your pet sitter about your pet's regular vet before a booking starts. This way the pet sitter will know where to go in an emergency without having to contact you first. Plus, the vet will have your pet's file on hand already. This will make it much easier for them to manage payments and give your pet the care they need.
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