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Pre-visit Pharmaceuticals

Is your pet nervous visiting the vet? You are not alone. The vet can be a scary place for  any animal. There is lots of unfamiliar smells and sounds. Maybe an illness or injury is adding to their stress. Your vet may recommend giving a medication before the next visit to help your pet feel more comfortable and calmer.

Prescribing pre-visit pharmaceuticals (or PVP’s) also known as situational medications, has increasingly become more common in veterinary medicine and has helped many pets be less fearful, stressed and anxious when visiting the vet. These medications are not used in order to “drug” or sedate your pet, instead are used to help alleviate fear, anxiety and stress, which may be interfering with effective treatment.

When starting your pet on a new medication, especially situational medications, it is important to ensure you trial the dose carefully during calm periods. By doing so, this will allow for an accurate interpretation of how their body will respond during a heightened, stressful event. Most medications prescribed for situational use are considered “quick” acting and once given, will take two hours to see the full effect sometimes even sooner. For most animals the medication is out of their system in eight to 12 hours.

You may notice your pet exhibiting more calm behaviours such as not barking as much, being more affectionate or resting calmly. You may notice your pet is a bit wobbly on their feet at home but once they are at the vets the effect of the medication is no longer visible but hopefully, they are calmer, eating treats more readily and showing less signs of fear, anxiety and stress. The reason for these medications being trailed in advance in such a way during calm periods of the day, is to ensure we can dose the correct amount for times when there are triggering events occurring. If the medications are not having any effect on your pet, or alternatively are having too much of an effect, we will need to adjust the dose.

Every animal responds slightly differently to medications, so it is important that you do monitor your pet during and after dosing. Speak to your veterinarian on specific instructions for conducting a medication trial for the medication and dose your animal has been prescribed.

Situational medications may also be used for other stressful events in your pets lives such as, during thunderstorms, fireworks, when visitors come over or going to the groomer.

Other ways you can help your pet feel happy to make a trip to the vet include:

  • Use species specific calming pheromone, sprays or collars.
  • Over the counter calming supplements, such as Zylkene.
  • Acclimate your pet to being crated or transported in a carrier.
  • Make “Happy Visits” to the Vets; this is where you take your pet to visit the vet clinic, they go into the foyer or consultation room (if available), practise going up/off the scale and get lots of treats, nothing scary!
  • Training your dog to feel confident and happy wearing a Basket style muzzle.
  • Taking along your pets most favourite treats.
  • Advocating for you pet and prioritising want versus needs for the appointment i.e., Need – illness/injury medical treatment, Want – nail trim.  
  • Seeking help from a FORCE FREE qualified trainer who can teach you the steps to making your pet feel more comfortable visiting the vets and carrying out any other husbandry procedures that may cause them stress.

If things don’t go as well as planned, the behaviour escalates or you have other concerns, your pet may need some additional support. Please discuss this with your GP vet or give us a call to give you some more info on how we can assist. 

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