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We might as well admit it: no one goes cheerfully to the doctor’s. Neither do most pets. But as it’s always better to be safe than sorry, periodical visits to the vet are still better than getting sick. Which means mustering up the willingness to pick up the phone to make an appointment and psyching ourselves up to face this adventure.

At this point, some owners report strange things going on. Some dogs and cats seem to sniff out an appointment as soon as the phone call is placed. Some pets go hide immediately after the appointment is made. And this behaviour is not all that odd. Pets that live in close contact with humans soon learn to know our everyday routine and little quirks and behavioural patterns, and are often capable of catching the meaning of words we say, even when we never actually taught them. Our pets can’t speak, but they’re body language experts. Perhaps we sent a look their way while we were talking on the phone, perhaps they heard the word ‘veterinarian’… And now they’re trying to get away.

So what can we do to better prepare ourselves for the ominous trip to the vet? Safety, first and foremost. The journey to the vet’s must include suitable equipment, leash for dogs, carrier for cats. Pets should never be allowed to move freely inside the car: no cat on your lap, no dog sniffing out through the window, thank you. This would mean more risk of an accident, not to mention a large fine. In the waiting room, our pets will likely meet other friends, and, no matter how sociable, whenever they find themselves in a small, unfamiliar place filled with strange smells and unknown animals, they might become nervous. Keep them under control at all times.

Of course, many pets absolutely hate carriers… But, while there are several different ways of restraining dogs, such as separators and safety belts designed specifically for them, cats prance and find their way everywhere, which makes carriers inevitable. A word of advice: if your little friend hates sitting inside a carrier, try making him get used to it beforehand. For instance, you can use it while playing with your cat, throwing a little ball or a toy inside. She may begin to accept its existence as a fact of life, and perhaps even use it as hiding place. Placing a cushion inside, such as one of the Atlas line, will surely make it feel more pleasant. It’s bad enough having to go to the doctor’s; having to travel in a plastic, uncomfortable carrier would be far too much to bear.

Don’t forget their health records, passport, and all medical documentation you have regarding previous appointments (such as bloodwork, previous or ongoing therapies etc.), so that your vet can check things out.

The day has finally come, and owners absolutely must cooperate. As our pets can’t describe whatever pain or discomfort they’re feeling, they must be prodded and handled, an uncomfortable and stressful situation for them. It’s important to comfort him, talking to him or rewarding him with snacks or cuddling. If you don’t feel up to the task because of your own anxiety, ask for help and move away from the examination table so the vet can do his job without having to deal with Toto desperately trying to jump into your arms.


Thanks to veterinarian Dr. Chiara Pellizzari for her help.

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