Prepare For Your Pets Visit
At MAH we recognize your pet’s emotional health is just as important as their physical health!
We want to help bring your pet into a stress-free or low-stress environment when coming to see us. We want you as the owner and your pet, as our patient, to have an enjoyable calm experience. To help achieve this, we would like to share with you how this begins even before you leave your house.
Before Your Visit:
Let a member of the MAH Team (customer care specialist) know on the phone when scheduling your appointment that your pet often reacts when traveling outside of the home. From there go into detail about what upsets them. If your pet is here for their yearly wellness, please fill out the Pre-Visit Questionnaire.
- Does your cat (or dog) do well in the carrier?
- Does your dog not like to be around other dogs? Other people?
- Does your dog or cat react to loud noises (barking, other people chatting in the waiting room, phones ringing, etc.)?
- Is your dog okay with people approaching them? Are they okay with people approaching them with you, the owner, present?
- Are they okay with having an examination done?
- Are they okay with having their temperature taken or vaccinations given?
- Are they better with or without you present for the exam and other procedures?
- Does your pet take treats well?
- Does your pet do well in the car?
- Does your pet like toys?
- Does your pet act sick in the car (drooling, vomiting, nauseous)?
By answering these questions and preparing the team here at the hospital ahead of your appointment we can help better prepare your pet for their trip and their appointment.
Prepare for your visit:
- To help make our visits a positive experience, we offer treats during our examinations, blood draws, vaccinations, etc. We have cheese and peanut butter (along with hard treats and canned food) to help keep everyone happy! If medically able it is best to bring your pet in hungry! You can also feel free to bring in a bag full of your pet’s favorite treats!
******Please make us aware if you or a family member has peanut, fish, cheese, or other food allergies.
- If your pet loves a certain toy and they feel most comforted by that, please bring that along as well.
- We use pheromone sprays, such as Feliway (cats) and Adaptil (dogs). These synthetic pheromones can create a sense of contentment and lessen stress and fear. They come in plug-ins, so you can have them throughout your house. They come in a spray option as well. You could spray a towel, blanket, or even bandana for them to wear to the vet. We will provide your pet with a bandana or towel that our team has spayed the pheromones on prior to your visit. You will have an option to use this while your here for your visit to calm your pet.
- Don’t rush your pet prior to the appointment. Leave plenty of time for them to go at their own pace. If you are stressed, they will feed off of that.
- If your pet gets car sick or is anxious in the car, a veterinarian can recommend medications to help alleviate nausea or vomiting for future visits.
- Help your cat adjust to the carrier prior to a visit. By leaving the carrier out prior to a visit, place the carrier in a place that is comfortable for your feline, in a sunny spot, or near their favorite resting place. This can allow your cat to adjust to its presence and will alleviate any fear when using it for the visit.
- You can reward them with treats when they approach it or go in it. You can also leave the carrier door open so they are free to go in and out. Leaving treats in the carrier can help.
- Putting a Feliway sprayed towel can help to decrease the stress of going into the carrier. When transporting the carrier, try not to swing to jostle the carrier too much.
- Place a towel over it as well to help your cat stay hidden from view when traveling.
How To Help:
The fear-free behavior can all be built at a young and impressionable age- when they are puppies and kittens. Building a positive relationship with people, other pets, and their veterinarian is extremely important. Going to the veterinarian should be a happy experience. They are able to meet new doggie friends, meet new people- what’s not to love? During the early visits, we try to establish a positive and fear-free bond that will continue throughout their lives. The goal during our visits is to always make it as positive of an experience for your pets. This begins at home. For example, making the carrier a comforting place or the leash something fun to wear. Positive rewards instill positive bonds and behavior alike. At your visits to MAH, we encourage coming in with your dog or cat’s favorite treats, favorite toys, or even a favorite blanket. We want them to feel comforted and happy while visiting with us at the hospital. We want long-term physical and emotional/mental health for our furry friends!
Helping My Anxious or Fearful Pet:
If your pet is stressed here during visits, meaning they seem hyperactive, panting, overly vocalizing, jumping up and down (unable to settle), trying to hide, lashing out at people or pets, we may need to consider a different option for your visits.
Addressing fear now and helping to decrease it will help to reduce this fear during future veterinary visits for their lifetime. Lowering fear at veterinary visits is proven to be more effective and provide a higher quality of medicine for your pet over their lifetime. They will always need veterinary care, let’s keep it a positive experience for them always.
The veterinarian may prescribe calming medications to help reduce your pet’s fear and stress. This medication is not to sedate your pet, but the primary function is to decrease your pet’s fear anxiety so they can have a pleasant and Fear Free experience. Fear is an uncontrollable emotion that causes a sudden surge in stress hormone, this is unhealthy for your pet. These calming medications have a wide safety margin and are regularly used in veterinary medicine.
Due to the individual patient responses and the variety of calming medications and doses, we may not get the response we are looking for the first time prescribing. Our veterinarian will create a plan that works for your pet’s specific needs.
You may be asking, what is a happy visit and how do they work? We want all our furry friends to walk through our doors of MAH and have their tails wagging and be just that- happy! We understand that not everyone enjoys leaving the comforts of their own home, just to find out they are going to the vet. In order to help those fearful dogs, we have “Happy Visits”.
A happy visit is when we spend one on one time with your dog and our sole purpose is to build positive associations at the veterinary hospital. Instead of coming to the hospital and having a treatment or procedure done, we will walk your dog around the hospital and our team will offer them snacks without asking for anything in return but a wag of the tail. They are away from any stimuli that may cause them to become nervous. They instead are just left to observe their surroundings, feel loved, comforted and get treats. We encourage lots of petting and play. If they offer to hop up on an exam table, great! We will continue to feed treats!
For the happy visits, it is helpful if you bring along your dog’s favorite treats, favorite toy, or whatever makes them most comfortable. We want to build a positive association with being at our hospital. Then, when your dog returns for their examination, you may bring along those favorite treats and toys so that hopefully it can be just as fun as their happy visit experiences.
When you arrive for your happy visit, consider leaving your dog in the car (weather permitting) while you call to check in, just call us from your cell phone to let us know that you have arrived. It is also encouraged to bring your pet in hungry (if medically able). Calling when you arrive gives us a way to have one of our team members prepare a room and have everything ready to go when you enter the building. By avoiding the waiting room, we also avoid triggers and potentially stressful events, such as loud noises and strange smells.
Our happy visits are scheduled in advance in order to allow our team to spend time with your dog. Please let your veterinarian know if you are interested in a happy visit, we may also discuss this with you during a visit if we feel your pet would benefit from such a visit.