Tips for Easing Your Pet's Anxiety Before a Vet Visit

It’s time to bring your pet to Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo and she’s nowhere to be found. Your dog has escaped outdoors and your cat has hidden under the bed. Even if your pet didn’t escape, her anxious behavior is truly out of character. While it’s understandable you might feel exasperated, try not to take your pet’s behavior personally. It’s the only way she knows how to exert some sense of control over the situation. She knows that getting put in a pet carrier and going for a car ride is out of the ordinary.

Best Practices for Reducing Vet Anxiety for Dogs
Dogs typically enjoy going for car rides with their human family members. If you normally bring your dog along when you’re running errands, feel free to stop in for a few minutes. The attention he receives without anyone poking or prodding at him will help him make a positive association with our clinic. Some other helpful tips include:

  • If you have pheromone spray at home, spray a small amount on your dog’s harness, crate, and his spot in the car. You can always pick up a bottle of calming pheromone at our clinic for future vet visits.
  • Your dog will feel more secure in the car when he’s properly restrained.
  • Be patient and loving with your dog and be sure to offer lots of praise. Calming music can reduce anxiety as well.
  • Make sure to allow plenty of time to get to the appointment. Your dog will pick up on your stress if you’re running late.
Bringing an Unwilling Cat to the Vet
Most cats are not a fan of car rides, no matter how short. That’s why stopping in with your cat might be more stress than it’s worth. However, you can do several things leading up to the appointment to reduce anxiety for both of you.

  • Place your cat’s carrier out in the open a few days before her appointment. You might even consider placing a treat in the carrier so she learns to make a positive connection. Cats dislike surprises and disruptions to their routine, but having the carrier out at least gives your cat the chance to sniff it and investigate inside.
  • Your cat may still not get in the carrier willingly on the day of her appointment. If not, it might take two people to get her inside with one holding the cat and the other operating the carrier.
  • As with dogs, you can try using a calming spray in the car and on the cat carrier. Make sure she is securely inside the carrier and never let her loose inside of the car.
  • If you have more than one cat, try to schedule appointments one at a time or bring another person to mind the second cat. 
Don’t Transfer Your Own Anxiety to Your Pet
If you expect getting your pet ready for the appointment to be a hassle, your attitude and behavior will reflect that. Instead, remain calm and reassure your pet often. Your pet will pick up on your feelings either way. We are happy to suggest more ideas to reduce your pet’s anxiety at his next appointment.
Image Credit:  dosecreative | iStock Getty Images Plus | Getty Images

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)