Happy catAt Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital, we work very hard to create a stress-free environment for our patients. Our patient policies encourage better veterinary healthcare, a happier staff, and a level of satisfaction for our clients that we take great pride in. In order for your pet to have a stress-free visit to our hospital, follow these tips. Trust us, you will be amazed at how well they work.

1. Prepare for your trip. Take the time to condition your cat or dog to traveling in the car, and don’t just drive them around town when it’s time to come and see us. Take your pet on rides to our hospital every so often. You can just stop in and we will give them a treat. That way, they will have a day to come in, have a snack, and walk back out with you without having to come into the exam room.

Why is it that only dogs have dog beds and dog crates? Shouldn’t our cats have their own room too? Cats should be allowed to use their travel carriers every day. Place their travel carrier with the lids off in their favorite room at home, and place food, treats, and toys in the carrier. And when the day comes to bring your cat to the vet, place them in this familiar carrier, and then assemble the door and the lid over the top of them. No more trying to get your cat into their carrier through the front door.

Make sure the carrier is covered with a towel in your car, and sitting level on the seat facing forward. This will make for a much more relaxed car ride. And remember, your pets can sense your stress so it is important that you remain calm.

The use of calming pheromones is also encouraged. Check out Feliway for cats, www.feliway.com/us and DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) for dogs, www.dogappeasingpheromone.com. We can instruct you on how to achieve the best results with these, just ask us ahead of time.

2. You know that the way to your pet’s heart is through their stomach, right? We ask that you withhold food for 6 to 12 hours prior to your visit if your pet is healthy. This way, your pet will eat the food rewards that we will give them when they arrive and during their examination by the doctor. We want our patients to know that we always have a delicious treat waiting for them. We use healthy, low allergen snacks, and sometimes cheese. If you prefer, bring your pet’s own favorite treats and let us use those to spoil them while they are here.

3. We aren’t going to have you wait long in the waiting area. It’s funny though, it’s still called the waiting area. We even have designated waiting areas for cats.

We schedule our appointments so that we can keep on-time. You may want to give us a call when you are in the parking lot or almost to the hospital if your pet is particularly anxious.

We quickly place you and your pet in an examination room and allow you both to acclimate to the hospital. Our exam rooms are large, quiet, and all have a bright window to the outside. This makes for a very relaxing exam room environment. We also have cubbies for our feline patients to go in. That way, they can look around the room while feeling more secure.

4. Our veterinarians and technicians are always calm, collected, and we have even been called cool. We won’t be in a hurry while examining your pet. Our doctors utilize methods for examining their patients that are soothing and non-threatening. We will always keep our voices low, and we use calming pheromones and relaxing colors to set the stage.

If we have to examine a painful area, we can always consider topical pain management or mild sedation to reduce the sensitivity and stress. We always avoid creating any discomfort during the exam.

Our staff has been trained in friendly and low stress handling techniques. Yes, we’ve gone to classes on how to give hugs to our patients.

5. We make the vaccination experience more comfortable. We use both ULTRA Duramune vaccines for dogs and ULTRA Fel-O-Vax vaccines for cats. We also offer Bronchi-Shield ORAL Bordetella vaccine. These are some of the most efficient yet least reactive vaccines available for our patients. They are lower volume injections than other available vaccines and this translates to less discomfort for your pet when they receive their injection. Check out our Well Care information page.

6. The area of the exam room where our patients have their check up is also important for a stress-free visit. We will examine some patients while they are on the floor, if that’s where they prefer. We will use towels, blankets, or floor mats for your pet to lay or stand on. These fabrics are conditioned with calming pheromones such as Feliway or DAP.

Patients placed on the examination table will be done so carefully, and by our trained staff. We use towels and treats on the exam table also. Sometimes even music will be played. But, don’t worry, our doctors won’t be dancing. That totally ruins the stress-free visit.

Video: Cat in the Carrier

Thank you to the American Association of Feline Practioners for these insights on how to minimize stress on a cat when placed in a carrier.