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What To Do Before You Take Your Pet to the Vet

Author: Andrea Obey | Date: April 10, 2012

We’ve all been there.  Loving Fluffy is suddenly nowhere to be found to go into her carrier.  Or, she tries to scratch your face off when you try to put her in it.  Even with catnip!  “You usually love catnip, Fluffy?!”  Fido cowers in the corner, shaking, before you make it to the car.  Or, he needs a muzzle by the time you get into the exam room.

Working at an animal hospital, I see these types of scenarios all the time.

It’s pretty typical but it doesn’t have to be.  My fellow trainer, Erin, recently wrote a blog with great tips on what to do when you get your nervous Fido to the vet.  Now, let’s talk about some things you can do BEFORE you get there.

At the veterinarian’s office things can get pretty hectic and everyone wants to get the patient in and out as quickly and painlessly as possible to keep the stress levels on the animal at a minimum.  Most veterinarians, vet technicians and vet assistants try to make each visit as positive as possible but so many animals are very stressed.

By taking some proactive measures, the visit to the vet can be easy as pie and maybe even a little fun!

Unfortunately, we have emergencies and animals are not prepared.  When an animal is severely ill or injured, there really isn’t any time for play and treats so having your pet used to strangers moving in to handle them is crucial. Picture this:  Your four-year-old, 80 pound, mixed breed dog that usually freaks out at the vet is suddenly ill.  He is lethargic, is vomiting, has diarrhea, won’t eat or drink, and seems to be in pain.  You get him into the animal hospital and the staff quickly goes into action taking his temperature, reading vital signs, etc.  Your veterinarian wants to do radiographs, look in the dog’s mouth to check his gums, touch every part of his body to see where the source of pain may be.  An animal in pain may bite, even if that isn’t typical behavior.  Add to the mix the fact that strangers are invading his space and touching him, it’s probably very scary!  The staff’s number one priority is the safety of your pet and themselves.  The more an animal fights under restraint the more they are at risk for injuring themselves or a person.

So, what can you do?  We can’t prevent all illnesses and emergencies but by handling and practicing restraining methods with your pet when they are young will help their visit so much.  You can also do this with older dogs and cats; it just may take some more time for them to get used to it.  With dogs and cats, the best time to start getting them ready for the vet is when they are puppies and kittens.

Here are some tips that will get your pet ready for the vet:

  • Make several fun trips to the vet.  As Erin mentioned, ask your vet if you can bring your dog or cat in often for treats, a little play time and some affection.  Make your visit short and pleasant.
  • Have as many people as possible meet and greet your pet while practicing to handle your kitten or puppy.  They can offer treats and some long, soothing pets.  This is very critical when socializing your puppy and it can help so much in the long run when going to vet.
  • Ask your veterinarian or other staff member to show you restraining methods that are typically used for your pet.  Restraining methods are different for cats and dogs, and they are also different depending on what procedure is being done.  Some of the basics are methods for drawing blood, holding them still while standing on all four legs, and laying them on their backs for x-rays or to draw urine for testing.  Friends, family members, and of course you can practice these while offering their favorite treats.
  • Examine your pet’s mouth, ears, eyes, paws, tail and rear area daily.  Again, enlist some friends or family members to help.  Don’t forget the treats!
  • Practice muzzling your dog.  I know, we don’t really like to do this but in an emergency situation it may be necessary to muzzle your dog.  If a dog is injured or in pain, a muzzle may be used to prevent a bite.
  • Leave your carrier out for your cat.  We often get calls where a client says, “I have an appointment and I can’t get my cat into her carrier!”  At the very last minute is not the best time to try to get a cat into a carrier, especially if there is an emergency situation.  Try leaving the carrier in a favorite spot in the house with the door always open.  Put a nice towel or blanket in there with some catnip or yummy treats.  You can also put a towel or blanket over the carrier, which may feel like a more secure place for your cat.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and getting your puppy or kitten used to being handled is very important for trips to the animal hospital.

Have fun with it!  Practice often and reward with treats, toys, or whatever your pet thinks is really great.  Not only will it be less stressful for them, it will be for you too.

 

 

 


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