How to Reduce Your Pet’s Fear of Veterinary Visits

Scared dog

Is your dog or cat afraid of going to the vet? Don’t worry, your pet isn’t weird, this is a common fear in both dogs and cats. It’s not a surprise, given the strange smells and sounds at the vet clinic, combined with a good amount of poking and prodding by unfamiliar people. Here are some helpful tips for reducing fear to keep in mind the next time your fur kid is due for a vet visit.

  • An ounce of prevention. Make your pet’s trips to the vet less traumatic by making sure he’s used to being handled. Regular tooth brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming at home will help desensitize your pet. You can also perform a mock exam to simulate the kind of touching he will experience at the vet’s office.


  • Positive reinforcement. Bring your dog to the vet’s office for friendly social visits with the staff. Ask them to interact with your dog, make a bit of a fuss over her, and give her some treats. You can even practice getting on and off the scale many clinics have in the lobby. Your dog will begin to associate trips to the vet with positive experiences.


  • The power of treats. Never underestimate the power of treats in stressful situations for both dogs and cats. Bring some of your pet’s favorite treats along to your appointment. Treats can be useful as both a distraction and as a reward for good behavior.

Scared cat

  • Just for cats. Cats can be especially fearful of being put in a carrier, taking a ride in the car, and going to unfamiliar places. Try to make the trip to the vet as calm as possible by finding the right carrier and making sure the car ride to the vet is quiet and direct. Look into cat-only or cat-friendly veterinary practices if encountering dogs in the waiting room is stressful for your cat.


  • Be a calm pet parent. Many veterinarians will tell you that anxious or nervous pet owners in the exam room can heighten a pet’s anxiety and make the whole experience worse for the animal. If you’re the nervous type, try to be calm so that your pet stays calm. You can also ask to remain in the waiting room during procedures and meet up with the vet afterwards.