Fear Free Pets
Most people get pets looking for companionship and forming a bond with their newfound friend. Pets can add something special to our family if we let them. Something we don't always think of is our pets have emotions just like us. They get bored, frustrated, happy, excited and everything in between. Having a pet is similar to having a child in that you have to learn how they communicate and how you communicate with them. They don't speak with words, but there are other ways for you to communicate. You create a partnership where you both have a mutual bond of trust. When you are training your pet and spending time with them you strengthen this bond. Someone once compared it to a bank account. Time spent with them and training adds to the bank of trust. This way if you have to do something that to them seems scary or out of the ordinary they trust you to take care of them.
There is a fairly new scheme called Fear Free Pets that some veterinary clinics are starting to become a part of. Not all animals love going to the Veterinarian for their yearly checkup or for other health concerns. Veterinarians and the care they provide are needed and most places try to make the visit anything but scary, but animals don't always see it like this. There are some great things you can do as a pet owner to help your pet feel more comfortable in the veterinary clinic as well as other places they might find scary.
You can prepare at home with some amazing training techniques. For example if you take your cat to the clinic in a covered carrier that they dislike, this is adding stress to their visit before they even make it to the clinic. You can help this by making the carrier a fun and safe place to be. If you only pull it out to go someplace the cat doesn't like, they associate the carrier with bad things. You need to try and change that or start from when they are kittens to keep them from forming this perspective to start. You can change it by leaving it out with the door open and putting treats inside. Let them decide if they want to go in. Don't force them and don't close the door if they do decide to go in. Let them be in control. This can take some time but you can help them see that the carrier is a place where good things happen. Once they are comfortable inside and see that you aren't going to force them, you can start closing the door just for short periods.
For dogs you can help from the time they are puppies by making sure they are comfortable with you touching their paws, ears, and other areas. That way it is nothing new when they go into the clinic. You can also take them to the clinic to check their weight as they are growing simply to help them know that good things happen in this place and it is no place to be afraid of.
There are many vets who are trying to use fear free techniques. This is in part in how the vet examines the patients as well as providing a lot of treats to the patients while they are here. You can help with this by not feeding your animal directly before your appointment so they are slightly hungry and will take the treats. (Do not fast your pet unless directed by the veterinarian. This is simply if you have an appointment directly after a normal meal time you can feed slightly less or wait until after the appointment) This will help the animal see that good things come in vet clinic. Also if you have been building up that bank of trust, they will know that you will keep bad things from happening. If they do happen to need a treatment from the vet, they trust you and because you have built up the bank if you have to make a small withdrawal it won't be anything too scary.
If you are interested in taking a course in this or getting more information you can go onto the fear free pets website.