Going to the Vet – 5 Tips for a Stress-Free Visit
Do you recall the last trip you made with your pet to the veterinarian? Was it a struggle to round up Fido, coax him into his carrier, and trust he wouldn’t lose control of his bladder on the way?
You’re not alone. Many pet owners experience challenges when preparing their pet for a routine vet visit. Studies show that over 30 percent of cat owners feel anxious at the mere thought of a trip to the vet.
Although you may have had trouble in the past, stress no more! All it takes is a little preparation and training. Put your pet, and yourself, at ease with these 5 tips.
- Small Spaces are Natural for Animals - Have you ever seen a barn cat sleeping in a wheel-well or a dog snuggled underneath an end table? It’s important to remember that it’s natural for animals to feel comfortable in small spaces. Using a few simple conditioning methods, your pet will feel right at home in its carrier/kennel.
- Take Gradual Steps in the Right Direction - Training your pet to love its carrier rarely happens over night. It’s important to remain patient with your animal and allow enough time for him/her to feel comfortable in the space naturally. Provide a welcoming atmosphere in the carrier by placing bedding inside and leaving the door open. This way, entry or exit is unrestricted. Once your pet takes to its carrier, gradually begin closing the door from shorter to longer periods of time. Here is a great video about choosing a crate for your cat.
- Begin Training Early and Often - The sooner you begin carrier and car training, the better! Providing your animal with a history of positive experiences with its carrier and car rides is vital to continued comfort. If your animal is already grown, focus on consistency with the carrier. Encourage your pet to use the carrier every day. Once they are consistently using it, begin moving on to short car rides. For high-anxiety pets, try covering the carrier with a towel or blanket. This improves your four-legged friend’s sense of security, while in a confined space.
- Provide Incentives and Rewards - You probably won’t get very far in training without incentives and rewards. Every animal is different, so rewards may not always mean treats. You can use a favorite toy or even affection! Experiment until you find the right incentive for your animal, and utilize it to promote consistent use of its carrier. You may want to hide toys/treats in the space to encourage your pet to enter. Remember, effective training is always tailored to the animal’s preference. Check out this video on transporting your dog safely in your vehicle.
- Try Anti-Anxiety Products - There are some great anti-anxiety products for pets on the market today, especially for cats! One of these is Feliway spray. This is a synthetic pheromone spray that mimics the scent of cats’ cheek glands when marking their territory. By spraying the inside of the cat’s carrier, it may create a more relaxed feel inside. Another helpful tool is a Thundershirt. This is a compression vest which helps reduce anxiety levels. By utilizing steady pressure to imitate a safe, nestled feeling, a Thundershirt can help your pet remain calm during its routine vet visit. Every pet is different, however, so results may vary.
Are you left wanting more? For additional tips like these, please visit our pets page, and choose your pet of interest from the left hand side. We have many helpful articles to help you keep your pet healthy.
*Always check with your veterinarian before administering any new medication to your animals. Be sure to read all directions and warning labels on any new pet product, and consult your vet on the best training methods for your animal.