For many pets, being “tossed” into a crate or forced to ride in a car are about as enjoyable as being abducted by aliens! If your pet arrives at our office in a happy state, she will be more likely to have an enjoyable vet visit.
Many small dogs and cats can learn that a travel carrier or crate can be a cozy cave. It can be a home away from home. For dogs, this can be helpful not only when they need to leave the house, but also for potty training.
When a pet learns to enjoy her carrier, she learns that it’s ok to be alone in her “bedroom.” She will be less likely to develop anxiety when she may need to be separated from you later in life.
Teach your pet that great things happen when she is in her crate! The process is identical whether you have a dog or a cat.
- Start by feeding your pet’s meals just outside the carrier.
- When she is comfortable with that, move her bowl to just inside the carrier so she has to stick her head in to eat.
- Gradually, move the food dish farther inside the carrier until your pet must go all the way inside to eat.
- Once she is finished eating, give her several small treats in a row to encourage her to wait in the carrier rather than dart out.
- Additionally, hide treats in the carrier for her to find throughout the day. Pets should want to explore their carriers on their own. They may even choose to rest or sleep in the carriers!
The Car Ride
Both dogs and cats should be kept safe in the car. You can use either a travel carrier or crate, and for larger dogs, you can use a seat belt.
Without restraint, pets can be a nuisance in the car. Your pet may cause a distraction for you that may lead to a car accident. If you were to suddenly swerve or stop, an unrestrained pet could be easily injured. When you use a travel crate or carrier, seat belt it onto the seat to prevent the carrier from being jostled about.
Rough rides can cause increased fear in pets. If your dog isn’t crate trained, have someone hold the other end of the leash or seatbelt your dog in so he stays somewhat stationary.
When you initially introduce your pet to the car, keep the rides short. You don’t want your pet to have the time to feel nauseous. Additionally, have someone feed treats during the ride. End the ride in a location your pet likes – this may even mean returning home!
Practice short car rides until your pet acts relaxed all the time, then increase the driving distance.
Using Food as a Motivator
We encourage you to bring your pet to the visit hungry. Feed him a light breakfast that day and bring his favorite treat(s) with you. Start offering treats in the waiting area. This will help ensure that they will still be hungry for the remainder of the visit.
You will often see us reach for our treat jar before and after services such as exams and vaccinations. We also offer treats after we draw blood, trim nails, and perform other veterinary services in our treatment area.
Cats are less likely than dogs to eat during a visit. When you get a kitten, feed him a variety of foods when he is little so that he may be more likely to accept new food and treats later in life.
If your pet is not easily food motivated, bring along his favorite toy. Play can be a great reward, too!
Preparing your pets at home for car rides and safe travel can help them have more enjoyable visits with us.