Traveling to and from the vet can be stressful for both you and your pet. Luckily, our very own Fear Free Certified Veterinarian, Dr. Lisa Kentfield has shared some valuable advice for helping your pet enjoy a trip to the vet.
Advice for DOGS
- Transport your small dog in an appropriate sized carrier on the floor of the car.
- Transport medium to large sized dogs in a safety-tested harness that fastens to a seat belt.
- Place a non-slip mat at the bottom of the carrier.
- Acclimate your pet to the carrier or harness before the first actual trip. Try rewarding their good behavior after each 5-minute test run with a treat.
- Call your vet ahead of time with any travel questions or concerns. Let them know if your pet needs to go straight into the exam room and needs to avoid other pets, or if they get anxious in the lobby.
- Feed your dog a small breakfast so that treats are more enticing on the ride, and his/her stomach doesn't get so full that he/she gets sick in the car.
- Try using sun shades if the window stimuli is too overwhelming for your pet.
- Try not to be rushed or drive too fast. The goal is to make the drive as comfortable and stable as possible.
- Avoid loud music. Instead try no music or calming music for animals.
- Never yell at or punish the pet if they are nervous and seem to not be listening to your instructions during the trip. Stay calm. Remaining calm is reassuring and some pets will follow your lead quickly, while others may need several test runs before gaining confidence in their final destination.
- Typically it's not a good idea to put more than 1 dog in a carrier at a time. Animals can experience stress or even become claustrophobic during travel and may bite their travel buddy.
- Never place your pet on a seat with an airbag. In the case of an accident, the extreme force of an airbag can severely injure, even kill a pet.
Advice for CATS
- Be sure to choose a carrier that opens at the front and on top and that can be taken apart easily.
- Leave the carrier out at home with treats, catnip and other favorite things to acclimate the cat to the carrier.
- Cover the carrier with a towel or light blanket.
- Spray blanket/towel with pheromones (15-30 min before putting cat in carrier).
- Place a blanket/towel along with familiar objects, treats, catnip etc. inside the carrier.
- Watch this video from the Catalyst Council on choosing a carrier and acclimating the cat to it.
- Like dogs, cats also experience anxiety and can become claustrophobic and may scratch or bite their companion during travel. Therefore, it is not recommended to place more than one cat in a carrier.
- Never swing the cat carrier by the handle when carrying. Instead try to keep the carrier stable with both hands.
- Do not pull or grab your cat out of a hiding space or shove them into the carrier. Instead try enticing them with treats or a feathery toy out of hiding and into the carrier.
Bringing your pet home from the vet can be just as stressful. Especially if your cat or dog has undergone surgery. Be sure to talk with your vet about a plan for making your pet comfortable at home and how to reintroduce him/her to other pets at home. It is very important to kindly isolate pets that are sedated or not feeling well until they are back to normal or have been home long enough for a smooth reintroduction. Here are few more helpful tips:
- If your pet has a history of being agitated or upset, keep even well pets in a separate room so that they can have the time and space to decompress..
- Try counter conditioning with food or treats (as long as it does not inspire competition).
- Consider scent masking (rub pets with same towel or clothing from home to try and make them smell the same/familiar).
- Encourage calm, relaxed behavior, remove toys or food that promote competition, and do not punish pets or encourage/allow high-arousal play.
- Take one or both dogs for a 10-20 min walk if needed.
- For dogs consider: reintroducing pets in neutral territory, keep the returning dog in a separate room for 10-20 min after arriving home, or have the other dog out in the yard when the pet returns from the vet hospital.
What if my pet has bandages? Talk with your vet about a plan for keeping your pet safe during recovery and let them know if there are other pets or children in the home. Both cats and dogs are known to chew off bandages, or gnaw at stitches. Therefore, if your pet does have a wound (stitches, glue) or area that needs to remain bandaged, make sure to keep them in a separate room away from other pets. Especially if your pet is a kitten/puppy and there are bigger/older animals in the house.
For more information contact us!