The mere thought of traveling with your pet can cause people a great deal of stress. Conforming to rules and regulations involved in pet travel can be difficult. In fairness, it’s never going to be easy, but there are things you can do to make the whole experience a little less stressful for the two of you!
Before traveling with a dog or cat, it is a very good idea to take it to your veterinarian for a check-up, and it is mandatory before traveling internationally.
Here are several reasons why a vet visit before traveling with your pet is a good idea:
- Your vet can check your pet for overall wellness.
- Your vet can verify that your pet’s rabies and other vaccinations are current and issue a vaccination certificate..
- Your vet can microchip your pet. This is very important for pet identification and is required to enter many foreign countries. Don’t forget to register your contact information in the chip manufacturer’s database.
- Your vet can renew any prescriptions your pet may be taking so you can bring them along.
- You can discuss any sedation your pet may need when traveling with your vet.
- Your vet can complete a health certificate as required by many airlines and foreign countries.
- Your vet can check and treat your pet for fleas and ticks.This treatment is required by many foreign countries.
- Your vet can trim your pet’s nails.
Very few people like going to the doctor for a heath check-up. People even struggle in the days leading up a doctor’s appointment even though they know it’s for their own good. Now imagine how your dog feels when he’s being poked and prodded in a place full of unfamiliar smells and sounds. It’s hard for them to know what’s really happening and therefore, it can quickly become a very traumatic experience for them.
How to Make Visits to the Vet Easy
Making vet trips easier is really about removing elements of stress at every step of the process. It’s unlikely that you’re going to arrive at a stage when your dog loves going to the vet, but you may get them to reach a stage of acceptance – just like people do!
Give Them a Safe Place
When traveling with a dog or cat by car, you need to secure them to keep them safe. Whether it be a carrier, crate, booster seat or harness, restraining your pet not only protects them but also the driver and other passengers in the car. Getting your pet used to its restraint is so important in keeping it calm. Your pet will feel more secure in a carrier or crate if you take the time to acclimate it. Practice, practice, practice, and don’t forget to give lots of hugs, praise and treats during this process.
Plan Other Adventures
If the only time your pet gets in the car is to go to the vet, then it will be hard to convince them that this will be a great experience for them. It is good to remove your pet from its day-to-day routine occasionally and give them the stimulation of a new environment. Take them to a dog (or cat) friendly place – the beach, a park, a pet store or restaurant so they will not always associate a ride in the car as going to see the doctor. If nothing else, just take them for rides in the car and give lots of love and treats when you return home.
As we all know, dogs and cats are so good at picking up on emotional cues, and if they can see you’re stressed before you even leave the house, they’re going to pick up that something “bad” is about to happen. Try to remain calm and comforting as most dogs and cats already know that they’re leaving their territory once they are in the car. Try to act as if everything is fine! Speak to them consistently in soft tones as much as you can.
Try a False Alarm
You can also try to visit the vet first – without actually seeing the doctor! Give your pets a few minutes to become familiar with the waiting room and exam room, give them a few treats, and head on home. Hopefully, when they go back to familiar surroundings, they’ll remember the treats they received!
Avoid the Crowds
Another issue your dog may face is with all the other animals in the waiting room. Depending on your schedule, try to pick a time when the vet’s office is a little on the quieter side. Of course, this is not possible in emergencies, but it may be worth keeping in mind for more regular check-ups.
Make it a Happy Ending
Another tip is to combine your trip to the vet with another happy experience. After your vet visit, go to a pet store or dog park, visit a friend or relative or just take a long walk. Be consistent though – your pet will remember the previous experience and expect the reward at the end.
Using these simple tips can get you both through the stress involved in a vet visit before traveling with your pet. Stay positive and know that your support will help your pet get through the experience.
Contributor to this article is Greyhounds As Pets, a non-for-profit initiative for the adoption of greyhounds.
Information on traveling with a pet can be found at PetTravel.com.