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Sadly, nervy pets are a common problem. We do what we can avoid it – a gentle greeting or a well-timed treat – but our powers are limited if an anxiety frenzy began in the car. Introducing a ‘calmness begins at home’ approach is more than worthwhile. 

We have worked with practising vets to compile our latest video – an aid for owners to understand their influence on their pets’ veterinary experience. For pre-identified anxious patients, and to help avoid anxiety in the rest, the video is a holistic review in preparing for and attending a veterinary appointment. 

The Anxiety Conundrum 

Nervy pets present as a challenge. It would be wonderful if every visit was cuddles and cooing – for us and the patients – but that’s not the reality. Examined by a stranger, poked in all your painful bits, stared at, talked about, and sometimes taken hostage. That’s the pets’ perspective.  

Most practitioners are enlightened now in the art of patient handling. We let cats come out of carriers willingly, take time to greet dogs, speak calmly, ruffle syringe packets quietly, and examine our patients gently. That’s not to pretend that the overall consultation experience is not more satisfying when the patient is well-practised at sitting still – and when the watchful eyes of the owner have a calm preparedness about them.  

Prevention is Key 

Homework is essential here – there are still some clients who think we are all gifted pet whisperers with magic hands, as they mutely pass us the muzzle when Fido’s gnarly teeth are revealed with his deathly sideways glance. Without wanting to pass the buck, the owner’s involvement is important – but we are here to educate and assist.  

It’s not all as dramatic as Fido – cats could be spared a dose of fear from knowing their pet carrier as a place they regularly sleep or eat, and dogs could benefit hugely from having had their ears or paws touched during a cuddle at home. The danger is some of these things seem obvious, so in our day-to-day worlds, we forget to say them. As always, our video is here to save you time and deliver important information on your behalf.  

In the Waiting Room 

 

Some of the forthcoming advice may be lost at present, as many practices are still limiting footfall for Covid reasons, but even outside waiting areas can benefit from forethought. It’s well documented that cats prefer to be up high. It can also help smaller mammals to be away from the bustle – and from threatening predators! Covering carriers with a towel, maybe with a spray of some calming pheromones, is another tried and tested recommendation.  

Help the Anxious 

Prevention is better than cure, but sadly some patients already need extra help. We encourage clients to let you know of anxiety concerns ahead of an appointment. This provides an opportunity to book a slot when the atmosphere may be calmer – no guarantees! It may be that reception teams can offer for nervy patients to go for a short walk, rather than be kept waiting, or to wait in the car.  

In extreme cases, medication to settle nerves is a great choice and can help reduce problematic visits in the worst affected patients. Medication can also be a useful tool when starting a desensitization programme – encouraging social visits with increasing degrees of contact can be invaluable.  

Our video reiterates this advice so clients are prepared for what might be suggested when they come into the consulting room. As with prevention, the necessity to address anxiety at home is emphasized.  

Just like many of our videos, this summary is succinct, absorbable, and a great way for us to make a difference to pets’ welfare before they’ve even reached the consulting room. 

If you’d like this addition to your playlist, click through to the media library to preview and add to your playlist.

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