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
"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
Track 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.