Stress Free Trips To An Animal Hospital9 min read

 In Cats, Dogs, General



Most animals do not enjoy visits to any animal hospital for any reason.  I really can’t blame them. I feel the same about going to the dentist.  I have spent half my life in a dental chair.  I know it is for my benefit but I often don’t see it that way.  The same thing happens with dogs and cats.  There is a fear of entering a veterinary office.  Pets are not stupid.  They associated me with pain!  In their minds they came in and left with surgical discomfort or the discomfort from a quick vaccination injection.  Dogs are great actors though at times.  They would cry out even before the needle penetrated the skin.  The thing is, they knew what was coming!

Stress free trips to an animal hospital are possible.  Many owners dread going to animal clinics, not because they mind the trip, but because of the experiences their pets go through. Clients used to tell me that if they turned left out of their driveway and not right it meant a trip to see the good doctor.  Dogs would howl and cry out way before they even saw my office.  I watched countless times people tugging on the leash while the dog refused to even get close to the front door.  When they saw me they pawed at the vestibule door trying to get the heck out of there.  I never took it personally.  I swore it was more than just my hospital that drove them mad.  Several of my clients had service dogs so I would see them in local supermarkets.  Most of them hid behind their owners when they saw me.  Oh well.

Cats are another story.  Most of them would be in a foul mood.  Not because of me but because they had to suffer going through a car ride.  Cats hate car rides.  They would cry out.  They would howl.  Owners would turn the volume of their radios to max to drown out the whining. Cats would empty their anal glands in their carrier.  By the time I got to them I was the last person they wanted to see.

Not all was bad.  Many animals strutted into my office happy to see me.  Some clients actually told me that getting to see me made their dog’s day.  Wow!  Still most pets would sooner be doing something else rather than visit me.  The sepia influenced picture above was the typical anxious look that pets showed.  They just didn’t want to be there.




Stress free trips to an animal hospital are possible.  Animals have to deal with animal hospitals in two ways.  One, is the quick outpatient visit for vaccinations or an illness issue.  The other are those visits that are much longer.  Boarding, surgery and medical workups fall into this category.  Trying to alleviate their fears and making them feel a bit more comfortable can make the animal at least feel a bit better.

Dogs and cats that meet and don’t know each other can get tense. If your veterinarian has separate waiting rooms for dogs and cats that is ideal.  Some hospitals will have entrances; one for cats and another for dogs .  The best solution for cats is to keep them in a cat carrier the whole time.  The soft carrier is the best as cats feel more secure in them.  Try to avoid carrying your cat inside the hospital.  Cats panic easily.  Anyone that has had a cat “climb” their back knows how painful that is.  They may also run away and disappear for several months or longer.  For cats stress free trips to an animal hospital also means not encountering a large dog!  If there is a huge Rottweiler leaving the office the same time your cat is going in, wait for the larger animal to leave!

Dogs should always be brought into a hospital on a leash. When waiting for your visit keep the leash tight with the animal close to you.  Do not let it “sniff” other patients.  This could lead to aggression and make cats and tiny dogs even more nervous.  Allowing pets to co-mingle can also contribute to spreading infectious diseases such as parvovirus or respiratory infections.

Stress free trips to an animal hospital also can be helped by the doctors themselves!  People suffer from the “white coat syndrome”.  So do pets.  I almost never wore a white coat.  If I wore a lab jacket it was usually a shade of blue.  When I practiced in Florida it was too hot wearing any lab coat on top of my clothes even with the A/C on.  A simple blue or teal colored surgical smock was the ticket.  It kept me cooler and my patients happier.




The best way to provide stress free trips to an animal hospital begins when boarding your dog or cat.  Start the boarding procedure when the animal is YOUNG! Even if you are not going away board your pet overnight at your local veterinarian’s office.  Choose a week day and not during the summer months.  Weekends are busy as people are going away for the weekend.  The same thing happens with summer vacations after school lets out.  Let the staff know that this will be your pet’s first boarding experience.  Hospital staff will probably spoil your young kitten or puppy to death!  The more it boards the more comfortable the animal will be.

While boarding your pet bring along a favorite blanket and toy.  These items are like a security blanket that young children carry around to make them feel better. Young animals have sensitive gastrointestinal tracts.  Take a bag of puppy or kitten food to the office that your pet is used to eating.  Some animals are sensitive to changes in water.  You might consider taking along a gallon of tap water from your faucet.  Adding a bag of some healthy treats also is nice.  Animals enjoy hearing human voices.  I had a sound system in my office.  When building the clinic I had the contractor put a ceiling speaker in the boarding area.  Talk radio makes a pet’s day pass much faster.

Hospitalized patients are a bit different.  They may not feel well or are in some discomfort after a surgical procedure.  If the pet is expected to be in the hospital for a few days to a week I encourage owners to visit their pets.  This is no different then human visitation hours.  The visit will give your pet a lift and make it much, much happier.  I have seen this countless times.  Many animals are too ill to eat or just miss their owners.  I often had owners hand feed their pets during a visit.  Stress free trips to an animal hospital can be accomplished by just visiting your pet for a while.




With the expertise of your veterinarian you can make your pet’s life easier.  This can be accomplished by conditioning the animal to the hospital environment.  This takes time but is worth while.  Take your pet to the veterinarian’s office just for a quick visit.  Even if nothing is wrong with the animal enjoy a visit with the veterinary staff.  Say hello and sit for a while. Watch the response of your pet to animals entering and leaving the reception area.  After a while leave.  Repeat as often as needed.  It would also be a great time to weigh your pet on the hospital’s electronic walk on scale.

If your dog panics when driving to the doctor’s office do the following.  Take the same route you always do but drive PAST the hospital and do not say anything.  Over time this will condition your dog that every car trip will not mean an injection!

If none of the above helps your dog or cat you might consider a house call.  Yes, veterinarians still do them.  I did many of them over the years and enjoyed working outside of the normal hospital environment.  I got to know clients better drinking a cup of coffee at the kitchen table after the work was done.  For the pet it is much easier because all the work is done in the owner’s home.  It is difficult for doctors to get away from their offices.  If you are considering this type of service let the office staff know as far ahead in advance as possible.

Stress free trips to an animal hospital may be impossible for some animals.  Their level of anxiety is so high that it is extremely difficult to handle them.  The goal in any situation like this is to prevent any bite incidents and that no harm comes to the animal.  This is accomplished by administering an appropriate dose of a phenothiazine tranquilizer several hours before the appointment time.  The usual drug of choice is acepromazine.  It also has an anti-emetic (prevents vomiting) effect so it minimizes motion sickness or vomiting secondary to anxiety.

Contact Us

We love hearing from our readers. Please fill out the form below and someone will answer you ASAP! Thanks!