You can make all your vet visits more comfortable for pet, owner, and staff alike by following these simple tips.
- Always use a carrier to transport your cat. She will be safer traveling, feel more secure once you arrive, and you won’t have to hold a frightened cat struggling to get away.
- Get a sturdy plastic carrier with an easily removable top and plastic clamps. They make removing the lid easy and fast, and don’t rust. If the vet can perform an exam by removing the top of the carrier rather than having to pull your cat out, your cat (and your veterinary staff) will be a lot less stressed!
- Get your cat accustomed to the carrier slowly. Set it up where she can explore it on her own terms. Put her favorite blanket and toy in it. Throw in yummy treats and let her eat them without ever closing the carrier door. Start doing this long before your vet visit. One or two days are not enough! For more detailed instructions on acclimating cats to carriers, read Pat Johnson-Bennett’s book “Think Likea Cat”.
- On the day of the vet appointment, spray the towel inside the carrier with Feliway® about 30 minutes before you have to put your cat in it.
- Start long taking your dog to the clinic for a “trial run” at least once a month before his actual visit. Bring his favorite treats and ask the staff to feed them to your pet. If he prefers toys, take his favorite for a few minutes of playtime in the exam room. Most vets won’t charge for such a visit, but I recommend scheduling it, so you won’t arrive during their busiest time.
- If your dog is already very nervous, try a D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone) collar, or spray D.A.P.® on a doggie bandana before the visit.
- Remember: If you are worried or anxious, your dog will feel it. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. A “happy” voice often works better than a comforting one.
- If you are not comfortable with the staff obtaining blood or stool samples in the exam room, say so. They will be glad to take your dog to the treatment room, since many dogs struggle much less when the owner is out of sight.
- Talk to your veterinary staff about their handling techniques. Although low stress handling and restraint are on the rise, many animal professionals still rely on physical force. But incorrect handling can increase your pet’s stress level. One or two negative experiences can create more stress and worse behavior the next visit. Before discussing low stress techniques with your vet, consult “Low Stress Handling, Restraint, and Behavior
Modification of Dogs & Cats” by Dr Sophia Yin. Or visit www.drsophiayin.com.
Evelyn graduated from AB Tech in 2010 with an Associate Degree in Veterinary Medical Technology. Today, she is an RVT at Beacon Veterinary Hospital in Swannanoa.