Top Tips for Creating a Stress-Free Trip to the Vets

Expert shares top tips on creating a safe space when taking your pet to the vets.

Whether your furry friend is a senior dog or an energetic kitten, taking your pets to the vets is a crucial part of keeping on top of their health & wellbeing routine. However, for many cats and dogs visiting their local vet can be a stressful experience and something they will quickly associate with pain and discomfort.

With a little bit of time and preparation, you can make it a positive experience for both you and your pet. Here are Bella & Duke’s top five tips for creating a safe space;

 1.Take familiar items with you

It’s important to keep our pets as comfortable as possible and ensure they have familiar smells around them. Bring a blanket or toy that smells of home on your journey or put over the top of their carrier when moving around. The recognisable smell will help them relax and stop them feeling anxious when they’re trying to hide.

 2. Have treats ready to hand

Take some tasty natural treats that you know your cat or dog will love. These can be used to create a positive association with being in the consultation room and being examined. It can also help your pet build a positive bond with the vets and nurses they meet.

 3. Choose the right carrier

The cat carrier you have is very important. The best cat carrier is a sturdy (not a bag style) basket. It is best to make sure that the whole top comes off easily and as quietly as possible. If your cat doesn’t want to walk out of their carrier when they get into the consulting room (which is often the case), your vet can then gently remove the top to examine your cat. Quite often they can stay in the bottom half throughout the whole thing if they want. Don’t forget to make the basket as comfortable as possible when taking a cat to the vet.

 4. Get your pet used to being held

When they visit the vet, be that for a routine health check or a bigger operation, your pet will need to be examined. This will involve them being picked up and held. Introduce them slowly and gradually to being gently held at home and later by the vet and practice nurses.

 5. Creating a calming space

When you arrive, try to take your pet to a quiet space in the room, you could also do a calm walk with a few turns round the car park to help lower stress hormones. Always keep your cat’s basket up high on a cat shelf, if provided, or on a chair as they find this less stressful. If you have a nervous dog, ask all who approach you to please not stroke your dog, even if they appear relaxed. It’s a closed environment and full of stress, smells and chemicals so calmly place your hand on your dog’s side to help them relax.

Caroline Spencer, Animal Behaviourist at Bella & Duke added;  “Visiting the vets can be quite the ordeal for our four-legged companions with a whole array of new smells and noises floating around. As our pets don’t speak our language, it’s so important that we create as relaxing an environment as possible for both your pet and yourself as they will be able to pick up on your emotions and behaviours and sense if something is different. With time and experience, your pet should become more and more comfortable with visiting the vets but only if you support them in the right way.”

For more information on how to calm down your pet visit;

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