Bringing your pet to the veterinarian can be a stressful activity sometimes. It doesn’t have to be that way though! There are things that can be done prior to leaving your house or on the way to the clinic that can help keep you and your pet calm and makes the visit to the veterinarian less stressful for everyone involved.
Cats are interesting creatures that have their own ways of doing things. It is normal for cats to be nervous when they are out of their normal surroundings. They are solitary and highly predatory creatures after all! That is why it is best to put cats in a carrier and not carry them into the clinic in your arms. It helps them feel safe and secure. Now getting them to like the carrier is another thing! Fear not though, it can be done.
- First, you have to get them used to the carrier. Get a carrier that the top can come off and then put the carrier in a common place like the living room and leave it there. Put catnip in it, let them play in it. Feed the cats in the carrier. Keep in mind, if they stop eating because the food is in the carrier then take the food out and start with just a few treats inside the carrier and work your way up to it. Reward them going in the carrier with treats and some lovings!
- There is a calming product called Feliway. It can help immensely in getting cats to be calm in their carrier. It comes in wipes, sprays and diffusers. You could wipe the inside of the carrier or spray the blanket inside the carrier with it to help them stay calm on the way to the clinic.
- Put a t-shirt or a blanket that has your scent in it. That can help make them feel safe when they have your familiar scent around.
- Putting a blanket around the kennel can help because it keeps them warm and decreases visual stimulation.
- Holding the kennel from the bottom instead of the handle keeps it more stable.
- Do some practice runs! Take the cat out to the car inside the kennel (That has the top back on it!) and bring the cat back inside.
- Practice and don’t lose hope, your cat will thank you for it! Secretly though because you know cats don’t like to show their appreciation too much otherwise you may come to expect it all the time!
- There is a great video on how to get your cats in a carrier at catalystcouncil.org/resources/health_welfare/cat_carrier_video/index.aspx
Dogs tend to be easier than cats but there are still things that help make the trip to the vet an easier time instead of a struggle. We don’t want them to be anxious and stressed about coming in to see us, we want it to be as good of an experience as possible for everyone involved.
- If you have the time, burning some energy with a dog walk before coming to the clinic can be beneficial in keeping them calm and they will be more likely to listen to your direction.
- Thundershirts aren’t just for thunderstorms! You can use them to help keep your dog calm!
- There is also a calming product for dogs called Adaptil. It comes in collars, sprays and diffusers. Spray a shirt or bandana, put on the collar, whichever works best for your pet.
- If they don’t tend to get carsick, you could give them a treat filled kong in the car on the way to the clinic.
- Does your dog have any certain triggers for stress? Call ahead and let us know!
- Bring your dog in on a leash (Or a kennel if they are small). It’s much safer and less stressful for everyone that way. A short leash is best to keep them under control in a busy, unfamiliar environment. The vet’s office and waiting room can be quite busy and sometimes other pets are nervous and would like to be left alone. Let’s try to make everyone’s visit as stress free as possible!
Both Cats and Dogs:
- Pop in every so often just to get on the scale and get some treats and cuddles! It helps the pets to not think that every time they see us here at the clinic we are going to do something they don’t like.
- “Examine” them at home. Even better, start as puppies and kittens! Look at their teeth, touch their toes, feel their bellies, lift their tails, check their ears. Getting them used to being handled. These are all things a vet will do so having them used to it before coming to see the vet will help them not be so nervous and unwilling to co-operate. They don’t know we are doing these things in their best interest!
- Listen to calming classical music or species specific music on the way to the clinic. Calm sounds will help drown out outside noise and keeps them worry free.
- Don’t baby talk them on the way to the clinic! Remember, they take their cues from you so if you are saying “Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay” or something like that they are going to wonder what is going on and be on edge. Helping them be calm means you have to be confident and calm.
- Bring pets in hungry unless medically contraindicated. Bring in their favourite, smelliest treats! If coming to the vet means special yummy treats then that’s a great thing!
- Bring along a t-shirt or blanket with your scent on it. It can help calm and de-stress the pet.
- If you know your pet gets stressed in the waiting room, call from your car and check in and wait in your car with your pet until the room is ready for you.
We want you and your pet to have the most enjoyable, stress free visit possible. Following these simple tips will help you and your pets stay calm and be confident enough to come into the clinic for everyday wellness care.
Written by Jill Thiessen, Clinic Manager