A visit to the vets can often be an ordeal. It starts with a friendly and relaxing trip in the car, your pet is thinking they are just going for a lovely ride in the car and maybe a longer walk. But really, they're in for a trip to the vets. Now while we know the vets are lovely and that they really just want to help your pet, we can see why a pet may get a bit nervous when faced with a human they don't know, who wants to prod and poke them.
While their nervousness is understandable, it's not always helpful or fun trying to keep a scared pet calm while they're being treated. It can be stressful for you, the owner, for the pet and indeed for the vet who's at risk of getting scratched or bitten if worst comes to worst. To help with this problem, we've outlined how you can help your cat, rabbit and dog stay calm when visiting the vets.
- Getting your cat used to car journeys or journeys in a crate in the important first step to keeping them calm. Choosing the right sized, comfortable crate for your cat helps tons. Getting the crate to be a positive instead of a negative helps get the trip to the vets off to a good start.
- In the car or walking, try to maintain this positivity for your cat, keep the crate stable and not bouncing all over the place. Secure the crate in the car or keep it steady the whole walk. A visit to the vets after the journey from hell will never end well so making sure your cat is comfortable on the way can help loads when actually at the vets.
- When actually in the vet waiting room, again, keep the crate stable and flat. Preferably in a raised position, so not on the floor, and away from any aggravations like barking dogs. If the waiting room is too packed, there's nothing wrong with waiting outside. Scheduling appointments during non-peak hours can be a lifesaver for this one!
- In the actual examination room, letting your naturally curious cat explore always helps. Let them walk out of the crate on their own without being dragged out.
- Bringing treats to reward your cat with good behaviour
is a great way to show the behaviour you wish to encourage and will help calm your cat.
- Above all, stay calm, if you get panicked, so will your cat.
- Dogs have the ability to make trips to the vets unbearable and sometimes scary, especially big dogs! But with some of these tips, every trip will be a good, stress free one!
- Playing doctor with your puppy can help loads, it takes some of the unfamiliarity out of the vets and makes them more comfortable when they're actually at the vets. Doing your own quick home assessment like feeling along their ribs and checking their teeth, all the while giving them treats for good, calm behaviour. This makes the vets seem more familiar and they'll be looking for more treats so will keep calm to get them.
- Sometimes, taking your dog to the vets for literally just a visit can help loads. Like a dress rehearsal, bring your dog in the car, into the waiting room, let the staff pet him and just let him get used to the environment. Reward good behaviour with treats all the while and he'll soon stop feeling nervous and calm down. This will help wonders when visiting the vets for a real check up. This helps especially with more shy dogs.
- Above all again, stay calm yourself. If your dog sees you panicking and getting worked up, they're more likely to feel like there is something to be worked up about, be a calming influence and reward their good behaviour with treats or assurance and petting.
- The advice for rabbits isn't too different to the advice for cats and dogs, it's all about making the whole thing feel less alien to them.
- Small things like having the engine already on in the car when putting them into the car can help. This stop the loud rumble making them jump or scaring them.
- Making sure the car doesn't heat up too much and they can get enough fresh air.
- Keeping the smells familiar and not having their whole world changed, this can be as simple as giving them a blanket they recognise or that smells familiar.
- In the waiting or examination room at the vets, much of the same advice applies, try to keep your rabbit stable and in a quiet place, away from any loud distractions like barking dogs.
- One of the biggest challenges for rabbits can be simply the unfamiliarity of simply going in a car or going on a trip, getting them used to this bit can alleviate a lot of stress brought on by the vets. Maybe taking them on a trip or a few dummy car trips to get them used to the whole process so they can learn that there's really nothing to be afraid of.