Maintaining the health of your pet means that visits to the vet are sometimes unavoidable. This could simply be for routine health checks, vaccinations or flea treatment.
Reducing any stress for your pet during the journey to and whilst at the vets, can be key to maintaining their health. These routine visits can be not only stressful for pets but for their owners too.
To support your pet during this time and make their trip to your vet a stress free event, there are some positive things you can do:
Familiarise your pet with their carrier
For cats especially, they are usually taken to the vets in a carrier. These are sometimes only brought out for vet visits, which can cause anxiety. To reduce this stress, leave the carrier out so that they can get used to it. Leave a blanket in there and let them use it for sleeping. You may also feed your cat in the carrier so that they associate it with nice things.
Visit vets in advance
You could take a few trips to the vets prior to your appointment. This may help your pet to get used to the smells and sounds of the vet practice and reduce any stress whilst there.
Get them used to the car
Unless you are able to walk your dog to your local vets, most pets are taken by car. Get your cat or dog used to being in the car by taking them on short trips to places other than the vets. You may also get them used to being in a stationary car before driving anywhere.
Secure your pet
Be sure to make your pet comfortable and secure whilst in the car. A cat should be in a carrier, which is secure in a footwell or on a seat with a seatbelt securing it down. Your dog should be secure using a harness or in a crate. Don’t let your pet roam free in the car.
Planning ahead of your trip will help to prevent any stress. Make sure that your pet has eaten, been exercised and relieved themself before you leave. Ensure that you leave plenty of time to get your cat in their carrier and your dog into the car, so that you are not rushing.
Find a quiet time
Speak to your vets about whether there are days that are quieter than others to prevent waiting too long for your appointment. If you have a cat you could look for a vet that have cat clinics, which can help prevent stress from dogs being in the waiting area.
Stay calm yourself, before and during the visit, as your pet may pick up on this. Give your pet plenty of attention and reassurance to help relieve any stress.
Use a blanket
For your cat you could cover the carrier with a blanket to keep them calm, whilst in the car and waiting area of the vets. You could also place a familiar blanket or item of your clothing in the carrier with them.
You could use treats to encourage your dog during travel to the vets and their behaviour whilst at the vets. Use treats as a reward for good behaviour and during any training.
Get them used to being handled
Some pets may not like to be handled by someone unfamiliar. Train your pet to be used to having their paws and limbs lifted, as well as places like their ears and in their mouth etc. When possible let other people handle your pet to prevent any stress at the vets.
Be careful whilst driving your pet to the vets. Make sure your pet is secure in the car and take your time driving there. Avoid any jerk movements or sharp braking to prevent your pet or cat carrier from being thrown around in the car.
Wait in the car
If your cat or dog gets particularly anxious whilst in the waiting room, take them outside or wait in the car until you are called in for your appointment. Explain to the reception that your pet is nervous and let them know you’ll be waiting outside.
Ask your vet about nutracalm, which is specifically formulated to naturally calm anxious pets and help to reduce unwanted behaviour. nutracalm can be given to your pet two hours before they are due to leave for the vets to reduce any stress.
When you get home
When you return home from your visit, your pet may wander off to a hiding place. Give them some space to relax but be sure to keep an eye on them and look out for behaviour changes or any unusual reactions.
Speak to your vet about any of the above, as they will able to offer advice with regards to your pet’s health needs. Find more information about nutracalm and how it can support your pet here.