Going to the vets: the perfect visit in 5 steps
We all remember the feeling we got when it was time to go to the dentist as a kid – some of us still suffer nervous tummy pains!
For our pets, the same anxiety can occur when they’re visiting the vets – no matter how lovely the staff or how routine their appointment.
But a visit to the vet doesn’t have to be stressful for your pet. By following the tips below, you can make your vet trips as perfect as possible!
Your journey to the practice
The trick is to get your pet to associate their trip with positive things. If you live close to your practice and have a dog, a simple method of achieving this is to walk. Dogs will never turn down a walk and most will prefer it to getting in the car.
If walking isn’t an option?
If you need to drive to the vets, take some time in advance of your appointment to get your pet used to car travel. Aim to take your dog or cat out in the car and reward them with treats or playtime once the journey is over. This way, they’ll come to associate car travel positively instead of with fear.
Just like the car, your pet will associate the carrier/crate negatively if they only ever see it when it’s time for a huge change to their routine, such as a trip to the vets. Try to leave your cat’s carrier on show in their living space. Encourage them to play or even to sleep in there. This way, they’ll view their carrier as a safe place and will feel comfortable in the car when inside it.
Choose a top-opening carrier if you can. They’re easier to open and allow the vet to remove your cat without having to tug them away.
Keep small pets comfortable in a suitable carrier. Small animals rely a lot on smell, so add some bedding or accessories to their carrier to make them feel more comfortable.
When transporting an exotic pet, keep their box secure, dark and suitably heated.
In both cases, trimming claws will keep the box/carrier damage-free!
Eating before a journey could make your pet sick in the car (or worse, at the vets). If your appointment is in the morning, try to avid feeding until you get home. If it’s in the afternoon, make sure you feed your pet well in advance so their food is digested when you come to leave.
Keep nervous pets away from the waiting room
While some practices have separate dog- and cat-only areas, waiting rooms can be stressful places for pets. If your dog or cat is particularly nervous, see if you can wait outside in the car; contact the receptionist before you arrive, they’ll happily call you back when it’s time for your appointment so you don’t have to hang around in the waiting room, exposing your pet to other nervous or excited animals.
If, after the measures listed above, your pet still hates going to the vets, you could try a therapeutic product. These range from dietary capsules like Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety to pheromone sprays and even specially designed coats! If you’re considering a stress-relieving product, we recommend you have a chat with your vet before making any decisions.
For more information about making your pet’s visit to the vets as stress-free as possible, have a chat with… you guessed it… your vet (one vet-visit you can leave your pet at home for).
To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.