The physical act of taking your pet to the vet can be a challenging and daunting task, to say the least. Emergencies happen, and visits to your local vet are often unforeseen and happen when we have the least amount of time and resources available. Most city vets don’t do house calls either. Even if a vaccination appointment has been scheduled, Murphy often rides shotgun when your cat decides to disappear for the exact few moments you planned to go to the vet!
Going for a visit to the vet implies travelling in a car, the first hurdle. Most of our pets are not accustomed to travelling in cars, evident as either discomfort or difficult behaviour during travel. Having a pet who is comfortable and relaxed during travel simply makes life easier and travelling with them safer. Taking your dogs for a routine drive to the park or around the block will create a positive experience around travelling, which is of great advantage when the unexpected visit to the vet is necessary. This is especially true for elderly people owning large dogs who need to get in a car by themselves as they are too heavy to pick up.
Having your cat routinely climb into a travelling basket for a quick drive around the block ending with a healthy treat and lots of human interaction can add to a positive experience for both cat and owner. Cats are known to have a ‘sixth sense’ and are quick to notice when something is different. Keeping your cat inside the house the day before a scheduled visit is a good way to prevent her from disappearing unexpectedly.
Waiting room etiquette
Most vets have a reception area and waiting room. This can be the most fearful experience for our pets. Not only are they out of their familiar territory, but they are exposed to different animals who are just as scared and uncomfortable as they are. Our pets, just like us, revert to different behaviours in unfamiliar circumstances, often out of character. The waiting room is an emotionally volatile area for both owner and pet! Having your dog well restrained, on a leash with a collar or harness that will not get undone, is crucial. Having an unrestrained pet in the waiting room is unacceptable. If it is difficult to restrain your dog, it is better to leave him in the car and let the receptionist know of the situation. Kennel hands are well trained with animal behaviour and should be more than willing to assist in the safe handling of your pet to the consultation room.
Some vets have separate waiting rooms for cats. If this is not the case, your cat will most likely be exposed to dogs. Cats are exceptional escape artists and it is crucial to have them in a closed and locked basket, with no chance of escape. If your cat is very sensitive, or if there is an unavoidable aggressive, loud or unrestrained dog in the waiting room, it is in the best interest of your cat to find a quiet place to wait for the appointment, even if it is outside.
Remember that our pets are often just as uncomfortable as we are in strange environments. Being well prepared for travelling can make visits to the vet a pleasurable and positive experience for both pet and owner, especially in case of emergency. Asking for help in advance can ease the physical task of taking your pet to the vet.