The first trip when your pet is young is relatively painless. However, once they realise they might be handled by a stranger or have an injection, your pets are a little less keen to head the vets. Dogs can be led into the car as if they are going on a walk whereas other pets, such as cats and rabbits, clap eyes on the travel case and go into a panic frenzy. Whilst we know the vets are lovely people and are helping your pet, we can understand why they could find it traumatising.
Whilst nervousness is normal, trying to keep a pet calm whilst they are being treated can be near impossible and some animals have to receive a sedative or be safely held in position by veterinary nurses wearing protective gloves. For your pet’s safety, your safety and the vet’s safety, take a look at the tips below to help keep your pet calm
Keeping Your Cat Calm
- A big aspect of vet trips to consider with cats is their basket or crate. Cats should not be taken to the vets on a harness or in-arm for their own safety. You should make sure that the carry case you used to transport your cat is big enough and comfortable. It also helps to place objects in the basket which have smells they are familiar with.
- Whether you are walking, driving, or taking public transport to the vet, keep your cat calm by ensuring the crate is kept as stable as possible. You should also reassure them by speaking in soothing tones.
- When you get to the vets, feel free to wait outside if it isn’t too cold and the waiting room is heaving with dogs (who may not be used to cats). If you would prefer to wait inside put your cat on a table in their crate so you can avoid noses being pressed up against the bars. If you can, book an appointment outside of peak hours.
- When you are called in to your appointment, let your cat come out of their crate at their own pace. Whilst you are talking to the vet, let your cat explore and allow them to feel free. If they feel enclosed or threatened they are likely to become agitated.
- It is essential that you stay as calm as possible too. Showing your cat that you are anxious will not help them at all. Make sure you have some treats on hand to help keep them occupied and reward good behaviour.
Keeping Your Dog Calm
- Get your puppies used to the vets by praising them and rewarding them with treats. A handful of puppies and dogs actually enjoy going to the vets as they get to interact with other animals!
- Particularly if you have a medium or large breed dog, keeping them as calm as possible is vital as we need to ensure the safety of your pet, you and the vet. Keep them occupied with their favourite toy and lots of praise
- Sometimes dogs do not like being poked and prodded in certain places. Get your pet used to the type of touches that a vet may give by mock-examining them at home. Feel around their ribs, check their teeth – all whilst giving them treats and praise. This will make what the vet does seem much more familiar and the bonus of treats is bound to keep your dog happy!
- All dogs love the sound of their owner’s voice and chatting to your dog and letting them know what is happening will do wonders. Dogs like to be involved with whatever their owner is up to and, whilst you might feel a little odd at first, the positive sounds in your voice will help keep your dog happy.
- Regardless of whatever treatment your pooch is having, remain as calm as possible. Dogs are great readers of your mood and will be able to tell if you are alarmed or upset. Place a hand on your pet and talk to them lovingly.
Keeping Your Rabbit or Guinea Pig Calm
- Small rodents are naturally very skittish and shy, so any trip to the vet can cause them great distress. They also have much higher heart rates than cats or dogs, so keeping them calm is imperative.
- Noises are very scary to rabbits and guinea pigs so try to eliminate any loud sounds as much as possible. A great idea is to have the car running when you place your animal in there in their crate. This means you will not alarm them as the noise will be constant.
- Their crate should ideally be dark but contain enough ventilation holes. Darkness help keeps rodents calm and placing a nice amount of their usual hay in the box will be a calming smell they are used to and help keep them comfortable.
- When you are in the waiting room keep your rabbit or guinea pig in their crate and on a table. Keeping them on your lap can be tempting but wobbling around in the dark will make then very uneasy.
- If there are noisy animals in the waiting room tell the receptionist you will wait outside or in the car until the time of your appointment. This will help keep your pet relaxed.