In the previous article, we looked at how to choose a veterinarian for your JRT. In this article we will take a look at the different things you can do to make your JRT’s first veterinarian visit less stressful for them, and for you. Keep in mind that next to you your JRT’s veterinarian is the next most important human in their life. Also important to keep in mind is that the earlier in your JRT’s life that they begin going to a veterinarian, the sooner a type of bond of trust will form. There will always be some level of anxiety for your JRT, but not as much as there could be.
A few things to think about, before your first visit are:
Call head and see if there are any special instructions that need to be followed before your visit. One of these may be no food or water within 12 hours of the visit. It is important to have an open line of communication with the veterinarian from day one. Remember, this is someone who will be handling a very important part of you JRT’s health and well-being for the remainder of their life.
On the day of the visit, make sure to make it just like any other day in your JRT’s life. Do not make over or bring excess attention to the fact that they will be going. If you get your JRT all worked up, that will only serve to ramp up their anxiety when they actually realize where they are going. Then, when they get there, you and your JRT both will be miserable.
Do not forget to take your collar/harness and leash when you go to the veterinarian office. It will be crucial in helping to control your JRT, and maintain some sense of familiarity when they are there. Also, it is worth noting that many offices require that JRT’s be on a leash, just do to their overactive temperaments which will be heightened due to their anxiety.
If you get to your appointment and find that your veterinarian is running late, be patient. For the first thing, any anxiety or stress that you are experiencing will be picked up on and sensed by your JRT and will only serve to heighten theirs. Also, may times what was originally presumed to be a routine appointment may very well turn into something that needs a more in-depth approach. So, relax and hang tight knowing that the veterinarian will get to your JRT as soon as possible.
When you do attend your appointment make sure to bring along something to keep both you and your JRT occupied during your wait. This day in age most people bring their cell phones or tablets for entertainment, which is fine. But your JRT is going to need some distractions as well. Bring along a toy or two, or even some of their favorite treats (if permitted). Anything that will help to avert your JRT’s attention from the current situation and keep their anxiety levels as low as possible.
Keep in mind that when you arrive at the veterinarian’s office that your JRT is going to exposed to an explosion of new and strange smells, sounds, and sights. This will most assuredly kick their anxiety into high gear. You need to be patient and supportive at this time. You JRT’s whole impression of the veterinarians office visit is established during this first visit. If the visit is a stressful and fearful one, then that is what your JRT will associate each and every visit after that with…fear and stress. Make sure to arrive a few minutes before your appointment time, so that you may take the opportunity to allow your JRT to acclimate to the new surroundings on their own terms. This will more than prove beneficial in future visits.
Many veterinarians do not like the owners in the exam/treatment area with their JRT’s. This is on rule I never really understood. After years of not going back with mine, I finally asked my veterinarian if I could. He said that as long as it didn’t add to my JRT’s stress during their visit that it would be fine. What we found out was that my JRT’s seemed to be more at ease and less stressed than when I wasn’t there. It made me wish I had asked years ago to be with them in the treatment room. This is something you may want to ask your veterinarian. If not on every visit, then maybe just on the first few so that your JRT will know that the veterinarian is someone you approve of. It could go a long way in easing their anxiety.
Once your visit is over and you have returned home, allow your JRT to relax and decompress. They will most probably be in need of a nap, since anxiety can take a lot out of them. Allow them to rest, undisturbed, and get their emotions and feelings back in check. They need to get back to their *safe zone* in their emotions, and a nice nap can help achieve that.
If you take the time to properly prepare your JRT for their first veterinarian visit, then you are most assuredly both going to come out with much less stress and anxiety than if you had not prepared. Keep in mind, you are the main human in your JRT’s life, and they are looking up to you to make sure they are provided for and taken care of. Keeping their stress, anxiety, and fear levels at a minimum as much as possible is one of the best things you can do for them.