11 simple steps to reduce pets' stress


These tiny tips can make a big difference in how pets experience their veterinary visits.

1. Playful distractions

Dr. John Talmadge, pictured here, bounces a tennis ball to capture the attention of canine patients. He gets the balls from a local racket ball club free, and pooches can take home their toys after a visit. 


2. Food puzzles

Food puzzles in the exam room give you a chance to play with pooches and introduce fun experiences around the visit. 


3. Build relationships

Link pets with the technician who has particular rapport with that pet.


4. Compression shirts

Place a compression shirt, like the ThunderShirt, on anxious pets when they first enter your practice to help reduce their stress when they enter your hospital. 


5. Pheromone towels

Keep a pheromone towel station at your front desk so you can greet cats with a pheromone-scented towel. Place it over their carrier as you take them back to the exam room.



6. Dehiss exam rooms

Getty Images

"Dehiss" exam rooms if you see a number of unhappy cats in a row. Do this by completely wiping down the floors, walls, counters, exam table, and so on, and then using Feliway in the room.


7. Pet massage

Some pets will respond to gentle rubbing on the chest or their sides.  




8. Cat climbers and toys

Give cats a chance to explore in the exam room with climbers and toys that distract and entertain them while they wait. Check out Spooky the cat's low-stress veterinary visit below. 




9. Treats, treats, treats

Place treat jars strategically throughout your practice so you can treat early and often, from the front door and on the scale and into the exam room and to the checkout area when the visit's over. 




10. Make a note

Getty ImagesTrack pets' individual idiosyncrasies in your practice software to anticipate each pet's needs and preferences.



11. Practice happy visits

Encourage pet owners to bring their pets to your practice for happy visits, where pets get treats and petting and make pleasant associations with your practice-and your veterinary team. Download the client handout: Practice a Fun, Fear-Free visit, to encourage pet owners to visit your hospital for practice visits. 

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