Going to the doctor doesn’t rank high on most people’s list of favorite things to do. And they’re not the only ones, because our furry friends often feel the same way about the vet.
Dr. Philip Saxton, a veterinarian who places his business insurance with ERIE and Wm. R. Karschner & Sons Insurance, understands this. As a co-owner of the only veterinarian clinic in Knoxville, Pennsylvania (population: 631), he’s seen it all over his 45 years in business. And he has some helpful tips for anyone who has a pet with an aversion to the vet.
1. Socialize your pet from the get-go. Dr. Saxton says a successful visit starts well before you ever set foot in a vet’s office. “Always socialize your pets to make sure they’re comfortable around other people and animals,” he says. “If you don’t have other pets at home, it’s important to expose them to other animals—and the younger they are, the better.”
2. Keep them safe and comfortable in the car. There are lots of ways to keep pets safe in cars. And if you have auto insurance with ERIE, you’ll be happy to know that it includes coverage for cats and dogs that are injured in a car accident. When there is a covered loss, your auto policy covers dogs and/or cats owned by you or a relative that are injured in your vehicle in the covered accident. ERIE will pay a maximum amount of $1,000, with a $500 limit for each pet, for reasonable and necessary veterinary medical care. And while nothing can truly replace a beloved pet, if injuries result in the death of your dog or cat, ERIE will pay up to $500 for the loss of your pet, even if you do not actually get a new pet. Payment is based on the cost of a similar dog or cat and includes the cost of a first wellness visit and the cost to spay or neuter, but is reduced by any payments made for veterinary treatment for the pet prior to its death. Payment for the death of multiple pets is also subject to the $1,000 limit per accident. (This coverage is not available with North Carolina policies.) To learn more about auto coverage from ERIE and how it can help protect your pet, contact an Erie Insurance agent in your community.
3. Use a leash or a carrier. It’s never a good idea to carry your pet into a vet’s office in your bare arms. Instead, invest in a leash or a carrier in order to keep you, your pet, and other people and their pets safe.
4. Keep your pet close to you. Other pets might not be as friendly as yours—and your pet could behave differently at the vet than they do at home. For that reason, keep your pet away from other people and animals in the waiting room.
5. Be mindful of your pet’s food intake. Dr. Saxton says it’s a good idea to refrain from feeding your pet a few hours before a vet visit. “If an animal eats too much and they’re nervous about the visit, he might vomit in the car,” he says. Pets going in for surgery are often required to fast, so make sure to follow your vet’s guidelines if that situation applies to your pet.
6. Bring along some creature comforts. A favorite toy or blanket or a few small treats can help calm a nervous pet. “Some owners will even feed their pet a small treat as I’m administering a shot,” says Dr. Saxton.
7. Recognize that there are limits to what you can learn on the Internet. Like most vets, Dr. Saxton sees more and more people coming to him armed with knowledge gleaned online. “Dr. Google,” he says with a small laugh. “I don’t mind that people are doing research, but you can’t always believe everything you read. A person’s pet will often have one small symptom, and the owner will think it’s a serious disease after reading something on the Internet.”
8. Understand what’s driving costs. Anyone who has a pet knows that visit to the vet can quickly become costly. And while that’s not good news for your wallet, it does come with an upside. “We can do so much more today than we could do even 10 years ago,” says Dr. Saxton. “In-office blood work is one of the biggest advances, but it does drive up the cost of medical care for your pet. New medications also tend to be more expensive. We can test and treat so much more than in years past, which is great. The downside is that it costs more.”
9. Expect the unexpected. In his nearly five decades as a vet, Dr. Saxton has seen it all and then some. Animals have relieved themselves on him more times than he can count. At times, he’s had to give especially out of control animals tranquilizers. One time, he got scratched so bad he needed three stitches under his eye. A visit to the vet can bring out a different side in a normally chill pet, so don’t be surprised if your pet acts out of character. Packing a roll of paper towels is not a bad idea, especially if it’s your first visit to the vet.
10. Know that your vet takes things harder than you think. While your vet may maintain a cool professional demeanor, he or she often feels the same heartache you do when it’s time to say goodbye to a beloved pet. “It never gets any easier,” says Dr. Saxton, who owns one dog and two cats. “We get attached to your pet, too. In some cases, I’ve been caring for four generations of a family’s pets.”