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Animal behaviour expert Karen Wild discusses taking pets to the vet

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Do you panic when there’s a vet visit due for your dog or cat? Do you have to pretend it’s a ride to the park, or that the strange pet carrier is only there just for decoration?

We often assume our pets wouldn’t want to go to the vet, but why not? Vets are incredibly caring about animals, that’s why they chose to work long hours and study for so many years, writes animal behaviour expert, Karen Wild.

Vets at the moment are under extreme pressure. The sheer volume of new pets that we have suddenly demanded, plus Brexit, plus Covid-19, means that some practices are needing to close, charge more for their services, all to provide the help that our pets need. It breaks my heart to see signs up asking people to behave appropriately and not to abuse vets and their staff.

Karen Wild
Karen Wild

We are very lucky to have excellent vets locally. These are highly-trained professionals who are dedicated to our pets’ health and well-being. How about we make an effort to help them, and our dogs too, by creating a really well-trained and calm plan for every vet visit.

Some of you have told me your dogs and cats really love the vet surgery, that for them it is like visiting a social club, delighted to be there and greeting everyone in sight. Others tell me that their cats are petrified and yowl or scratch, or their dogs refuse to walk in, perhaps because they were ill at their last visit or are worried about the other dogs in the waiting room.

The good news in, we can help all our pets to enjoy these trips.

For dogs, make sure they are happy to meet other people in all situations when they are well. Do they shy away from being stroked or touched? This might make it very stressful when the vet is attempting to examine them more closely. Relax your dog by pairing any touch with something your dog loves, such as tasty chicken or their favourite toy.

Will your dog let you examine them or restrain them in the same way that will be needed at the vets? Practice gently holding their collar, harness or shoulders at home, rewarding them with a really tasty treat whilst they stay happy and calm. If they are reluctant, take your time and never force them.

Get your cat familiar with their pet carrier by making it into a nice bed for them to choose to lie in, or just leaving it around for a few weeks before a visit is due.

Most of all, make all of these things regular and rewarding, so that your next vet visit is the best one yet.

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