My pet hates visiting the vet. How can I make it better?
Putting off a visit to the vet may seem like an easier option at the time, but it could leave your pet with serious health issues that may become complicated to treat.
We know bringing your pet to us can be stressful and even difficult in some cases. There are lots of smells, sounds, pets, people and unfamiliar surroundings that can make pets feel anxious, not to mention the challenge of the car trip.
There are many ways to help minimise the stress of visiting the vet and make it a positive experience for both you and your pet.
Cats are sensitive creatures, easily disturbed by sudden change. For a gentle journey here are a few suggestions to assist with preparing your feline friend for a visit to the vet:
- Leave the carrier open at home for a few days prior to the visit. This will allow your cat to explore and become familiar with the carrier
- Line the carrier with something soft like a towel or bed
- Feliway spray the carrier prior to putting your cat in to alleviate stress
- If your cat does not spontaneously enter the carrier, calmly place him or her into the carrier through the opening. If your cat is reluctant to travel, wrap them gently in a towel that has your cat’s scent or a pheromone spray Feliway.
- Place a towel over the carrier so they can’t see out, this can help to relax your cat
- Secure the cat carrier on the back seat of your car with the seatbelt, or against the front seat, and cover it with a towel. Drive smoothly, without loud music, talking to your cat in a soothing voice; the calmer you are the less anxious your cat will be. If possible, keep windows closed for extra safety.
- When you arrive at the clinic, place the carrier in the waiting room away from dogs and facing away from other cats
- Bring some treats like Greenies to reward good behaviour
- If it's all too much, have a cup of tea and call your vet to reschedule your appointment.
Often for dogs, it’s the car trip that creates the most anxiety. Making minimum fuss when you're about to visit the vet is key, as our canine companions are experts at reading your emotional signals. If you're nervous or anxious, your dog will pick up on that.
- It’s a good idea to get your dog familiar with being examined from head to toe. Touching your dog’s feet, lifting their ears and lips and running your hands over their tummy and can be helpful to desensitise handling issues
- Be calm and positive about the car journey
- Avoid feeding your dog approximately 4-6 hours prior to the car journey. Anxiety is one of the main reasons for car sickness in pets
- Spend time with them inside the vehicle while it’s stationary. Once they feel relaxed in the car, take them on very short trips, say around the block, before progressing to longer journeys
- Keep your pet relaxed by giving lots of physical attention and talking softly whilst in the waiting room
- Bring treats for positive reinforcement
In addition to these techniques, you can always pop by and visit your local Greencross Vets team at any time. A visit to us now and again that involves, cuddles, pats and a treat rather than being in a consultation environment, can help to desensitise your pet to the environment. You never know, a trip to the vet could become their favourite outing.
Travel Safety Tip:
Always remember to safely restrain your pet in the car. An unrestrained pet is a distraction to the driver, particular if they are a little nervous.
If your pet is nervous to visit the vet, please feel free to give your local Greencross Vets team a call prior to your appointment, we can talk you through these tips.