Many cat owners have had negative experiences when taking their beloved furry feline to the veterinarian. It’s no secret cats hate being put in unfamiliar situations so it is no surprise that visiting the vet clinic, even for a routine check-up, can be problematic. Fortunately, with some simple preparation and reassurance you will be able to take even the most scared cat to the vet with minimal stress.
What Causes the Stress?
Before we look at how you can make each vet visit a calm and stress-free experience, it is important to first understand why your cat may find the situation stressful. When you visit the vet, your cat is often put through a series of unfamiliar scenarios before they even reach the veterinary clinic.
Some key reasons your cat may be anxious include:
Use a Suitable Carrier that Your Cat is Familiar With
One major source of stress for both cat and owner is getting the cat in their carrier. If the day starts with a chase around the house and a forcible capture, there is very little chance the vet visit will be a positive one. By taking time to get your cat comfortable with their carrier, you are eliminating one stressful part of the trip. Take out and get your cat’s carrier into their environment a few days prior to the trip to the veterinarian. If practical and if it fits in with your home decor, consider leaving your cat’s carrier out in their environment on a daily basis, allowing them to explore, sleep, play, and maybe even eat a treat in it. This way they won’t associate the carrier just with the trips to the veterinary clinic.
As pet carriers tend to be quite bulky and awkward to carry, another option may be to try a cat backpack. This allows you to carry your cat with ease while keeping your hands free to open doors and fill out paperwork. It also means your cat is kept far from the ground and far from the other animals at the vet clinic.
Allow Your Cat Time in the Car
Getting your cat used to your carrier at a young age is recommended, but if you’re dealing with an adult pet, you should take the process very slowly. If going to the vet clinic involves driving, it is best to get your cat used to being in the car prior to the visit. Start by putting your cat in your carrier and simply carrying him or her around the house. Then, you can put your cat in the carrier in the car (without going anywhere) for a few minutes. Eventually, you can start taking short car trips with your cat around the neighborhood, going a bit farther each time. Before long, going in the car will no longer cause stress. Taking it step by step in this way allows your cat to get used to the situation without feeling afraid or overwhelmed. Then when the time comes to go to the vet, they will know that going in the car is nothing to worry about.
Minimize Waiting Time
A veterinary waiting area will be full of strange sounds and smells and this can be a nightmare for cats – cats are territorial and love their own space so imagine their dread when they are suddenly in an unknown room with various animals, lots of strangers and no way to escape.
This situation can be very stressful, particularly when the cat carrier is placed on the ground in close proximity to other animals. It’s something you may not have even thought about before but placing the carrier on the floor as dogs pass by on leads is very scary and intimidating for your cat. If you are in the waiting area, choose a quiet spot and have the carrier on your lap, continue to reassure your cat in a calm voice to let them know everything is ok. Perhaps covering the cat carrier with a lightweight sheet or towel might help eliminate stress as it will help your cat avoid contact with other animals.
Offer Reassurance and Praise
It’s important to reassure your cat throughout the entire journey and veterinary visit. If your cat likes treats, offer treats at key points such as; when they go into the carrier, at the end of the car journey and in the waiting room.
When it is time to be seen by the vet, let the vet know how your cat generally acts during these visits. This allows the vet to decide the best route to take when it comes to physically handling your cat. When the vet or vet tech handles your cat, talk softly so your furry feline knows you are still there and everything is ok.
While there are many things that we within the profession are doing to ensure your furry friend a safe and stress-free visit, there are also some simple things you can be doing with your pets at home, both on a regular basis and in advance of a veterinary visit, to help ensure as peaceful an experience as possible… for everyone involved.
At this time of year, it is important we discuss heartworm disease. If you are relatively new to pet parenting, you may not have heard of heartworm disease before. Heartworm disease is caused by worms that develop and live in the heart, surrounding blood vessels, and lungs. This parasitic infestation mainly affects dogs, but some cats can also be known to become infected. Unfortunately, heartworm is a very serious medical problem and if left untreated, could cause permanent damage to the health of your pet, and eventually, death. The good news, thanks to veterinary medicine, is the disease is entirely preventable. This short guide will help you clarify what heartworm disease is, its symptoms, and why we recommend year round heartworm prevention.
Heartworm disease is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. While the risk of a bite from one is higher in the summer, mosquitoes are present all year round in many states. The mosquito deposits heartworm larvae near the bite wound, and these travel to the blood vessels where they can mature into adults. Once fully-grown, the worms can reproduce, continuing the lifecycle of the worm and allowing them to rapidly multiple in number.
Frustratingly, the symptoms of a heartworm infection are very hard to detect. In many instances, it can take six months or more for many symptoms to become apparent, and often by the time they do, many adult worms will already be present in your pet's system and will have caused damage to youpet's health. If a dog becomes infected, the adult heartworms can lead to both lung and heart disease due to the worms damaging the epithelium and plugging up major vessels and airways. Nethertheless, early identification is essential if you are to get your pet prompt life saving treatment.
Symptoms of heartworms include:
Fortunately, heartworm is a disease that can be treated. Modern veterinary medicine has produced a number of drugs capable of destroying heartworms at every stage of their lifecycle, meaning it is possible to eradicate the infection entirely. Here at Healthy Paws Veterinary Clinic, we recommend year round preventatives. Using preventatives will treat the infestation before it can compromise your pet's health.
- Many people will argue there is no point in giving heartworm prevention during the winter months when mosquitoes aren't around. However, we disagree as we've experienced some unseasonable warm winter months.
- Sticking to year round heartworm prevention doesn't allow people to forget about restarting it in the spring, or to have it pushed back to after the weather has already been warm.
- Heartworm prevention will continue to control against intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms. We see a very high incidence of intestinal parasites in our area, especially with dog parks, doggie day cares, and plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking and hunting. Plus, roundworms are very hardy organisms that won't die off even with a freeze. Both roundworms and hookworms are zoonotic diseases, meaning they can be passed from animals to humans. Children, especially are at risk of picking up roundworms or hookworms from the pet or the environment. Intestinal parasites can cause clinical signs in dogs as well, ranging from lose stool and a pot-belly to failure to gain weight and anemia from blood loss.
In conclusion, heartworm prevention is an important part of the wellness care for your pet. We are more than willing to discuss what is best for your pet at your next wellness visit.
Let’s be honest, most pet owners rarely take a peek into the mouths of their cat or dog, except for an occasional slobbery kiss or cuddle. They are unaware that bacteria constantly builds up within the crevices of pet’s teeth. Left untreated, poor oral health in pets can lead to many problems, including bad breath, tooth decay or tooth loss, gum disease, heart and kidney disease and much more. All of these problems can mean shortened life spans and an unhappy pet.
Some common signs of dental disease are:
Dogs and cats both need regular at-home and professional dental care to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Owners should consider visiting their vet for a full pet dental exam at least once a year to better understand how dental health affects overall health. Your vet will help create a suitable pet dental care plan which may include a dental cleaning.
During a dental cleaning, plaque and tartar are removed from a pet’s teeth, and the health of the entire mouth (tongue, gums, lips, and teeth) is assessed. A thorough dental cleaning can be accomplished only while the pet is under anesthesia. Anesthesia keeps your pet free of anxiety or pain during the dental procedure and allows your veterinarian to fully inspect the teeth and remove tartar from under the gums. After the teeth are cleaned, dental x-rays are performed to make sure the tooth roots are healthy and there is no hidden infection under your pet’s gumline that can be causing discomfort.
Like a walk outside or brushing their fur, teeth-brushing must be part of your daily routine at home. Ideally, it is best to train your pet when they are still young but if yours is past this point, don’t fret. It is still possible to do with some patience. Although dental chews are good, they should not substitute for a good teeth brushing. Purchase a special pet toothpaste and toothbrush; never use human toothpaste since pets cannot spit or rinse. The key to successful teeth brushing is to start your pet off slowly for your pet to adapt, be gentle and use positive reinforcement.
Dental care for pets is important, as dental disease is very common and can be quite debilitating. Untreated, it can decrease your pet’s quality of life and shorten his or her life expectancy by years. If you need help getting your pet’s dental health on the right track, don’t delay. It’s always a good time to give your pet’s oral health a fresh start!