Some pets hop right into the car and arrive full of joy at our clinic. Others seem to read their owner’s minds, and either hide or attempt to fight their way out of the trip. Whether your pet loves or loathes vet visits, we want to make sure the trip goes smoothly and we accomplish everything your pet needs. These tips can help you get your pet ready, no matter how under- or over-enthusiastic they might be.
First, for both dogs and cats, reduce their food a bit at the meal before their vet visit. When animals are a little hungry (not starving) they can be easier to motivate and/or distract with treats during our visit.
You can also create a soothing ambiance for the car ride, by playing the right type of music. Cats and dogs both enjoy classical music, and dogs even like reggae! In fact, you can get the same type of music that we use at TVAH, which has been specifically configured by a veterinary neurologist and Juilliard artist to reduce their stress, here: https://icalmpet.com/
For dogs, make sure you take them for a walk before the appointment. They need a bathroom break before the car ride, and this is a good way to burn off extra energy. Spending some time bonding before the visit can help your dog feel more confident and secure, too.
With cats, preparing for a car ride can sometimes be an exercise in patience (or just plain exercise, as you search the house for them). Preparation should be done well in advance of your vet visit, so that your cat is more comfortable with their carrier and car rides in general.
Keep their carrier where they encounter it regularly, so that it does not represent a terrifying “mystery box” to them. Cats are comfortable riding in carriers when they regularly see and explore them. Leave it where your cat can relax inside it voluntarily, and offer a treat in the carrier occasionally so that it has a positive association. Now, when your cat travels in the carrier, it feels more like home.
Carry the carrier at your chest height, rather than like a suitcase down by your side. Carrying it like a suitcase creates an unstable, rocking “ride” for your cat (not a good thing) and puts the cat at eye level of dogs that might be present in our office.
And, of course, feel free to call and give us a “heads up” if your pet is overly anxious about vet visits. We can offer some additional tips that can make the experience more pleasant for both of you.