How to Support Your Animal Friend During Vet Procedures
Oh no! Your beloved companion animal is scheduled for a procedure at the veterinary hospital. Whether it’s a tooth cleaning or major surgery your fears come alive – will Fido be ridden with anxiety? Will Fifi be all right? Will they be scarred for life emotionally or physically? You feel anxious and your gut is rumbling with dread. You know these emotions aren’t good for you or for your dear animal. What to do?
First: Recognize your animal friend’s well-being is more important than your emotions. Commit to avoiding worrying about the procedure before the actual event. You cannot improve the results or change the procedures’ outcome by worrying. Your animal friend does not need to feel your worry and negative anticipation for two weeks before the actual event.
If you find yourself slipping into worry, stop!
Reverse the emotion.
Instead, envision an easy, successful procedure and full recovery. Spend the days prior to the procedure in loving activities and time together. If the worst case scenario does happen, you will at least know you had those wonderful days together, rather than wasting them on fear.
Second, trust your veterinarian. Trust yourself. You authorized the procedure because it is in the best interest of your animal. Let it go for now. If you talk to others about your pet’s procedure, emphasize the positive. Our animal companions are always listening! Our bodies are listening too. When we talk about our worries, our body feels them; when we speak with positive anticipation, our bodies feel that too.
If you are unable to consistently put worry aside, don’t berate yourself. Do your best. You will get better at being in the present moment with practice and self-discipline. No need to experience all the emotions of a negative outcome before the procedure has even taken place! Talk yourself into calm, not panic. Your animal companion will appreciate it.
Preparing for the procedure…
The day before the procedure, prepare your pet for the experience. Use your wonderful imagination (the same one that can anticipate the worst possible outcomes) in reverse. In your head, show your pet pictures of riding in the car, going into the veterinarian office and meeting new friends (the staff). Run the full movie: your pet being greeted by the staff, you saying a casual goodbye (“See you later.”), of your pet being taken in the back and put in a kennel with one of your worn sweatshirts (or other comfort item), and of the catheter being put in. Tell him how excited you are that he gets to have this work done and how much better he will feel after he recovers.
Let your pet know that tomorrow his job at the veterinary office is to be calm and cooperative. In your mind, show him pictures of going to sleep. (Do not show any information about the actual procedure! Leave that part out.) Then fast forward to him waking up, being drowsy, and sleeping in the kennel until you come to pick him up and take him home late in the afternoon. Let him know the procedure is important, that he will be fine, and that he will come back home the same day. Show him the ride home and sleeping in his bed that night.
The day of the procedure…
On the day of the appointment, be calm. Your companion senses how you feel. If you’re worried, he will be worried. Run the movie again as you take your pet to the veterinary office. Our animals like to know what is going to happen. Reinforce that his job is to be calm and cooperative.
During the day, go ahead and think of him. When you do, send pictures of him being calm and relaxed. Recall the wonderful times you have together. Anticipate how much better he will feel when he is healed. Your thoughts will travel easily to your friend. Tell him you love him and he is having the procedure because you want the very best for him. Thoughts travel easily across distance to those we love.
When you pick your companion up from the hospital, you will be delighted to hear from the staff how easily the procedure went, what a joy he was to work with and how well he is doing. Plus, you will know that you contributed to his well-being during the day and neither one of you went through an unnecessary emotional wringer.
Congratulations! You supported both your beloved companion and yourself through a stressful time.
If the outcome of the procedure is not as positive as you and the veterinarian hoped, you can be comforted by knowing that you were with your dear animal and in support of his well-being throughout the day. Your animal friend deeply appreciates your support, whatever the results.
Use this method for any changes in your animals’ lives, whether it is leaving them while you go on vacation or having overnight visitors for a week.
- Use mind pictures to let your animals know what is happening in the very near future and their jobs during that time.
- Thank them for their cooperation.
- Be sure there is something extra-special and positive for them during these times.
- When things return to normal, reward them for a job well done.
Use this visioning method often. This is an easy way to increase your communication with your animals. When your friends are well informed, they are more relaxed and tolerant of the shifts in routine that occur within our lives. By staying in the present moment with your animals, you avoid pre-worry about their reactions and the situation. Prepping them the day before by showing them a movie of the events that will occur, they will be more accepting and confident. Everybody wins.