Surprise Diagnosis – Importance of Early Disease Detection Screening

Autumn, a 12 year old dog came to see us because she seemed to have problems with her hind end. Her owner was worried about her hips because she was having trouble walking and especially on the stairs. Sure enough in the exam room, she seemed to be crouching as she walked and was uncomfortable. We were suspicious of arthritis due to her age and decided to go ahead with Early Disease Detection.

This is labwork that we use in older pets to screen for multiple diseases that are more common in our seniors. This can include kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, cushings disease, anemia, infection and abnormalities with minerals and electrolytes. A urinalysis is also included for our senior animals.

Animals cannot communicate with us to let us know how they are feeling or where it hurts. The labwork we checked at Autumns visit was also going to provide us with baseline values before starting her on an anti-inflammatory for arthritis.

Much to our surprise, Autumn had a severe urinary tract infection. She uses a doggy door into her backyard at home so during the summer months her owner does not see her bathroom habits. Once we started her on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for the infection and discomfort, Autumn improved tremendously. Her mobility is back to normal.

We rely on labwork in addition to a good patient history and complete exam to help us treat our patients that cannot speak!

To learn more about our Early Disease Detection in senior pets, please call us at (902) 893-2341


How to Find a Groomer That’s Right for You and Your Dog

Written By: Dr. Gwen

For some dogs, going to the groomer is like a spa day, but for others, the change of routine, strange handling and getting wet is worse then getting porcupine quills … in your eye!

Finding the right groomer reduces the stress on your dog, enables you to feel free to leave your best friend for the day without worries.
To help you find the right groomer for you and your best friend, here are a few questions and things to think about:
  • Look local first and expand your search if you can’t find the right groomer nearby. This saves the environment and if your dog does not appreciate travelling, a short trip is preferable to a long car ride.
  • Looks to see how the dogs are housed. Are there many crates or larger more spacious kennels? Are the kennels in a climate controlled space? Are there many other dogs present at the same time? Is there a lot of barking?
  • How many people are on staff. Some dogs are not the ‘happy go lucky’ types and meeting new people can be stressful.
  • Are the dogs allowed to socialize with each other. Socializing may be the best or the worst thing to happen to your dog. It depends on his/her personality.
  • Can small and nervous dogs be separated from larger or more assertive or aggressive dogs?
  • What does the groomer do for the nervous, aggressive or just an extremely exuberant dog. What techniques does the groomer use to calm a dog? Would these things work for your dog?
  • Did the groomer ask about nail, anal gland and ear care?
  • Did the groomer suggest dental care too? This is a flag – proper dental care can not be done in an awake pet safely. Do not allow a groomer to clean your pet’s teeth.
  • Did the groomer ask about the most recent vaccines (especially kennel cough) and deworming treatments and flea and tick prevention. If this was required for your pet, you can safely assume that the establishment is careful about disease transfer.
  • What does the groomer do for old, arthritic dogs to keep them comfortable while being groomed. The groomer may suggest several shorter sessions so the pet is not too stressed standing for extended periods of time.
  • How far in advance do you have to book ahead to get the date of your choice?
  • Will the groomer allow you to stay and assist with the grooming.

Tips to Make Your Dog’s Spa day wonderful.
  • Go to the groomers place before booking an appointment for your dog. Check out the facility and see if there are any things the groomer can do to make your best friend’s stay fun.
  • Bring your puppy hungry and have a few of his/her favourite treats to ‘break the ice’. This short and fun visit helps make future visits go much easier.
  • If car rides are a recipe for car sickness, we have to work on that before you travel to the groomer. The last thing a nervous dog needs is to combine scary things. Ask us how to train your dog to tolerate or even love the car.
  • Discuss with the groomer the expectations you have for the finished look of your pet. Bring pictures that you like so that the groomer knows what you want and can discuss with you what is possible with the condition of the coat.
  • Discuss how mats and areas of poor hygiene can be helped with good grooming techniques.
  • If your dog has any special disabilities, arthritic, deaf or blind; please share this with the groomer so adjustments can be made in the grooming technique to lower the stress on your dog.

How to Find a Boarding Kennel that is Right for You and Your Dog

Written By: Dr Gwen

For some dogs, going to the kennel is like going to doggy camp, but for others, the change of routine and familiar things and people is a recipe to stress … and sickness.

Finding a boarding kennel that reduces the stress on your dog, enables you to feel free to enjoy your holiday without worries that your best friend is having a bad time.

To help you find the right boarding kennel for your best friend (and you), here are a few questions and things to think about:

  • Look local first and expand your search if you can’t find the right kennel. This saves the environment and if your dog does not appreciate travelling, a short trip is preferable to a long car ride.
  • How are the dogs housed? Are the kennels in a climate controlled space. What’s the flooring made of? Is bedding supplied.
  • How many people are on staff. Some dogs are not the happy go luck types and meeting many new people can be stressful.
  • Are there recreation areas for the dogs to exercise? A place to swim?
  • Are the dogs allowed to socialize with each other. Socializing may be the best or the worst thing to happen to your dog. It depends on his/her personality.
  • How frequent are the dogs checked on? Hourly, throughout the day? Two to three times throughout the night?
  • Are there web cams so that you can have a virtual visit with your friend?
  • Is barking an issue? How does the kennel operator reduce barking?
  • Can small and nervous dogs be separated from larger or more assertive or aggressive dogs?
  • What does the kennel operator do if the dog is nervous, aggressive or just extremely exuberant at the kennel. What techniques does the kennel operator uses to calm a dog? Would these things work for your dog?
  • Did the kennel operator ask about food allergies or sensitivities? If there are special food needs, ensure the kennel knows about it.
  • Does the kennel provide food or do you supply the food?
  • Did the kennel operator ask about the most recent vaccines (especially Kennel Cough) and deworming treatments and flea prevention. If this health care is required for your pet then the risk of transmitting disease is much lower.
  • What does the groomer do for old, arthritic dogs to keep them comfortable?
  • How hard is it to book dates for a kennel stay?

Tips to Make Your Dog’s Kennel Stay seem like Doggy Camp.

  • Go to the kennel before booking a stay for your dog. Check out the facility and see if there are any things the kennel operator can do to make the pup’s stay fun. Bring your puppy hungry and have a few of his/her favourite treats to ‘break the ice’. This short and fun visit helps make future visits go much easier.
  • If car rides are a recipe for car sickness, we have to work on that before you travel to the groomer. The last thing a nervous dog needs is to combine scary things. Ask us how to train your dog to tolerate or even love the car.
  • You may want to pack some familiar things for your dog. Toys, favourite treats, bedding and maybe an old shirt of yours that your recently wore to give your dog olfactory (smell) comfort.
  • If your dog is on a special diet, bring enough of it to last the stay. Last last thing a dog needs is a diet change when he/she is already stressed.
  • Give the kennel instructions for vet visits if necessary and ensure kennel operator has your contact information or contact information of someone you trust to make decisions about your dog’s care in case of an emergency.

Travel First Aid

Travel-Pet-First-Aid-Kit-FAID19By: Dr Jessica Rock.

Here in the Maritimes we are heading into the fall, which is arguably the most enjoyable season in Atlantic Canada. Temperatures are comfortable, mosquitos and blackflies are on the decline, and water temperatures are at their annual highest. This is prime hiking, swimming, cottage, and camping season!

 More and more, people are taking their pets along on outdoor and seasonal adventures and vacations. All of this time outside, stretching the limbs, strengthening the body, and settling the mind is great for the humans and pets alike, but are you prepared if your pet has an unexpected accident or emergency during your adventure?

How about assembling this easy to make travelling pet first-aide and care kit for your trip? None of these tools should delay you in calling your veterinarian for help if an injury or emergency occurs.

General Supplies

  • Water – carry enough for you and your pet, or bring supplies to clarify water
  • Collapsible bowl
  • CURRENT ID tags – if you are travelling a long way or for a long while, attach a spare tag with your temporary contact information
  • Extra Collar and Leash
  • More pet food than you think you’ll need
  • Thermometer and lubricating jelly
  • Travel packs of honey – nab a spare for your kit the next time you have breakfast out
  • A small dixie cup and some bandaging tape (you probably shouldn’t ask, but if you ever need it you (and your vet) will be SO glad you have it…)
  • Veterinarian Phone Number and Address – plan ahead – look up the veterinary offices that will be closest to you while you’re enjoying your travel/vacation

Bandaging Materials

These materials are available at your local pharmacy.

  • Betadine – for cleaning wounds
  • Non-stick sterile gauze
  • Gauze Pads
  • Gauze Cling rolls
  • Vet Wrap (self clinging bandage wrap)
  • Scissors (to cut bandage material to size)
  • Bandage tape
  • Muzzle – it’s a good idea to have a muzzle in case of a painful injury, your pet might be the sweetest ever in the whole world, but if they are badly injured and frightened they may snap or bite when you are trying to clean and bandage their wound – no one wants two injured road warriors so be safe and take a muzzle

Travel Pharmacy

Make a point of talking to your veterinarian about these over the counter medications – your vet can help you make a travel pharmacy that’s customized to your pet

  • Artificial Tears
  • Diphenhydramine (e.g. Benadryl)
  • Dimenhydrinate (e.g. Gravol)
  • Bismuth Subsalicylate (e.g. Original Formula, name brand Pepto-Bismol IN CANADA)
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Remember, in an emergency you should try to get to your nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible, but having these materials on hand can be life-saving in the interim between injury/illness and getting to the nearest veterinary office, especially when the unexpected happens while you’re away from home.

So brush up on your pet first aide and make an appointment to create a customized travel pharmacy for your pet.

Oh. And enjoy your adventure!


Get Enlightened about LASER Therapy

Veterinarians have learned a lot about how animals experience pain over the last thirty years.

When I graduated from vet school in 1985, we were instructed that animals feel less pain and handle pain much better than their human counterparts. We were told that a little pain is OK because it discourages activity and that the resulting rest helps healing.

That made a little sense but it still didn’t feel right to me.

Veterinarians are taught comparative anatomy in the early years of vet school. We look at the body systems of many species and compare their development and function.  There is very little difference in the function and nervous systems of all mammalian species – this includes us and our furry friends.

If we feel pain … then your pet feels pain to the same degree. They just can’t communicate their pain and THAT is the problem.

Vets and animal technicians are getting better at identifying pain and more importantly treating pain appropriately. Thankfully, information and aids to treat pain have exploded over the last 15 years. Vets have many ways to treat pain.

At Truro Vet, we have a new cutting edge, scientifically proven way to treat pain … LASER therapy.

You might ask – how, on earth doe light waves treat pain?


There has been a lot of interesting research in this field called photo- bio- modulation lately.

In a nutshell, laser therapy accelerates the body’s natural healing process through photo-bio-modulation. Laser therapy provides tangible health benefits to your pet. Laser therapy is effective in treating chronic conditions, acute conditions, and post- surgical pain and inflammation.

How does it work?

Decades of research, clinical trials, and laboratory testing indicate the following beneficial effects of laser therapy. Some of this is ‘tech talk’ so I translated in the italics at the end of each paragraph:

Laser therapy reduces inflammation with vasodilation, activation of the lymphatic drainage system, and reduction of pro-inflammatory mediators. As a result, inflammation, erythema, bruising, and edema are reduced.
Reduce the swelling – reduces the pain.

Analgesic Effect
Laser therapy of diseased and damaged tissue produces a suppression of nociceptors, an increase of stimulation threshold, and an increased release of tissue endorphins. The result is a decreased patient perception of pain.
Numbs the nerves so they send less messages to the brain that feels like pain.

Accelerated Tissue Repair and Cell Growth
Photons of light from lasers penetrate deeply into tissue and accelerate cellular reproduction and growth. Laser light increases the energy available to the cells so that they can take on nutrients and get rid of waste products more quickly.
Promotes cell growth and speeds healing.

Improved Vascular Activity
Laser light significantly increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue. This speeds the healing process, resulting in more rapid wound closure.
More blood supply allows the building blocks of repair travel to the diseased treated area faster.

Increased Metabolic Activity
The energy from photons of laser light is captured by chemical complexes within cells resulting in activation of enzyme systems and increased energy delivered into cellular metabolic processes.
If healing cells have more energy – they can speed up the healing process.

Trigger Points and Acupuncture Points
Laser therapy stimulates muscle trigger and acupuncture points without mechanical invasion to provide musculoskeletal pain relief.
Needleless acupuncture.

Reduced Fibrous Tissue Formation
Laser therapy reduces the formation of scar tissue.
More healing and less scars – on the skin and inside the body.

Improved Nerve Function
Slow recovery of nerve functions in damaged tissue results in numbness and impaired limbs. Laser therapy accelerates nerve cell regeneration.
Speeds up the growth and repair of damaged nerves.

Therapy laser photons have an effect on immune systems status through stimulation of immunoglobins and lymphocytes. Laser therapy energy is absorbed by chromophores (molecular enzymes) that react to laser light. The enzyme flavomono-nucleotide is activated and starts the production of ATP, which is the major carrier of cellular energy and the energy source for all chemical reactions in the cells.
Increases energy of cells that support the immune system.

Faster Wound Healing
Laser light stimulates fibroblast development. Fibroblasts produce collagen, which is predominant in wound healing in damaged tissue. Collagen is the essential protein required to replace old tissue or to repair tissue injuries. As a result, laser therapy is effective on open wounds and burns.
Faster healing – this is especially obvious on patients with skin wounds or skin disease.


Pets and Parasites: The Pet Owner Resource

Courtesy of Dr. Michelle

38717981707304716We know that choosing the right parasite prevention product for your pet can be overwhelming. These days, there are so many products to choose from.. pills and topicals.. products that get fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and any combination of those! We are always happy to help you make an informed decision on which product is best for your furry family based on your lifestyle, risk, and desired method of administration. Here is a very simplified chart of the major products we carry and their main features. There are a few other products left off of this chart for simplicity sake, but may be mentioned to you in our office if we feel like it is the best product for your pet. Please give us a call (902)893-2341 if you have any questions about these products or would like one of our knowledgeable staff members to help make a recommendation for you.



Vaccinations – Why Are They So Important?


Courtesy of: Dr. Melissa

A very important part of preventive care for your pet is keeping them up to date on their vaccines. Many people ask us whey their pets need yearly vaccines when people get boosters much less frequently. At our hospital we follow the American Veterinary Association Vaccination Guidelines. These are based on studies to determine how long vaccinations are protective to our pets.  Puppies and kittens generally get three vaccines between 8-16 weeks of age, with a booster on all of these one year later. Core vaccinations are then given to all pets  separately on a rotating 3-year schedule. These vaccines protect against Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calicivirus. Some of our vaccines are given only to those pets whose lifestyle puts them at risk for specific disease, like cats that go outside, or dogs that live in rural areas. These are given yearly and include Feline Leukemia, Leptospirosis, Bordetella (kennel cough) and Lyme.

The diseases we vaccinate for can be very serious, even life threatening. Some of these diseases can infect humans as well. For each pet at each visit, we do a complete exam. Along with their medical history, we determine the best vaccination protocol for them. For animals with serious vaccine reactions, or those that have other medical problems, we may adjust the protocol or even consider checking their antibody levels (titers) to help determine if vaccination is necessary. Although titer testing has historically only been available at specialized laboratories, we can now check some of these antibody levels in-clinic after a simple blood draw.

Serious side effects to getting vaccinated are extremely rare. Most commonly we see mild lethargy, low-grade fever and soreness at the injection site.  If your pet is due for an exam and vaccinations, or if you have any questions regarding vaccination or titer testing, please call us at (902) 893-2341!

Here are some great resources for you to check out:


Truro Vet Says Good-Bye…To Declawing Cats

Courtesy of: Joye

Truro Veterinary Hospital is very excited to announce that we are no longer performing declaw procedures on cats.  For many years, declawing has been the procedure of choice for any owners worried about their household furniture or being scratched by a cat who plays too rough.  However, the veterinary industry, like any medical field, is one of growth and change.  As we learn more, we can do better.

The Procedure

For many people, the medical procedure of “declawing” has always been poorly understood.  Many believe that a cat’s claws grow from the skin, as fingernails do in people.  This isn’t the case.  In fact, the operation may be more accurately called “de-toeing”, as the first bone of each toe must be completely removed to prevent the claw from regrowing.  Each declawed cat has actually experienced 10 toe amputations.  In a human, that would look like this:


Ouch!  So, why did we do it?

The surgical technique of declawing was first performing in 1966 and became a very common surgery in the 1970s.  Eventually it became standard code of practice to have a cat’s claws removed at the time of spay or neuter.  Many owners came to believe that this was just part of owning a cat.  Others worried about their expensive furniture and the negative impact cat scratching would have.  Still others were immune-compromised individuals worried about the health consequences of receiving a cat scratch.  Many veterinarians perform the procedure in the belief that declawing is preferable to having a cat surrendered to a shelter or worse, euthanized.

Seems reasonable.  What’s changed?

In the last decade, veterinarians have become more conscious of the ethical ramifications of cosmetic procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping and declawing.  These procedures provide no health benefit to the recipients and are done purely at the preference of the owner.  In 2010 the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association (NSVMA) instituted a ban on tail docking or ear cropping by veterinarians in Nova Scotia.  (Unfortunately, a recent vote by the NSVMA did not pass a similar ban on declawing cats.)  These procedures do not “promote animal health and welfare“, a promise taken by all Canadian vets as they enter the profession.  In fact, declawing is illegal in at least 22 countries around the world.

In fact, declaws do not merely provide no health benefit to the patient, they frequently result in significant ill effects.  As the medical industry is coming to better understand pain, especially that of human amputees, we are able to understand more about the long-term effects this amputation has on cats.  Cats are stoic animals, with genetic instincts built in to ensure that they don’t let the world around them know they are feeling pain (in the wild, this may result in being someone’s lunch!).  We now know that declawed cats may suffer chronic pain which worsens as they age.

One side effect of chronic pain in the front feet is that declawed cats may be more likely to have problems with litterbox use.  Getting in and out of the litterbox, as well as scratching around in the litter, can pose a challenge for these cats and result in urination and defecation in inappropriate places around the house.

Behaviourally, cats use their toes and claws for many activities.

Courtesy of Tree House Human Society

Claws are used in play and self-defense, and even a friendly indoor cat will often give a swat as a request for some personal space.  This is one of the arguments in favour of declawing.  However, studies have shown that removing a cat’s claws simply makes them resort to a back-up plan…their teeth.  Cat bites are much more likely to result in serious injury to humans and other pets than scratches.  Bites often result in deep puncture wounds and bleeding, causing a much higher risk for immune-compromised individuals than scratches.

For the veterinarians worried about pet owners giving up their cats or euthanizing them if they can’t have them declawed, there is good news.  A survey of 276 veterinary clients revealed that just 4% of them would seriously consider these options if they could not have access to declawing.  This may be related to the fact that as many as 95% of declaws are done purely to save household furnishings, with concerns about human safety coming in a very distant second.  Interestingly, the top reasons that cats are surrendered to shelters are for inappropriate urination and biting, two side effects potentially associated with declaw procedures.

If you’ve made it this far, we hope that you have come to understand our perspective and why we are taking this big step forward for our feline patients.  If you’re like me, you might want to see some of the science/research behind this information.  Please visit here for an excellent summary.  If you’re a visual learner, or just want more information about the hazards and long-term effects of declaws, please check out The Paw Project, a ground-breaking movie bringing this issue to the forefront of social awareness.

Cookie Monster

Does our decision to stop doing declaws mean that you can never have nice furniture again?  Absolutely not!  There are several alternatives to declawing that are humane and inexpensive…but they often require some effort.  We think a healthy pet and a beautiful house are worth it!

Declawing Alternatives:

1.  Scratching posts are one of the most effective ways to deter scratching of furniture and walls in your home.  Cats need to scratch, it is a natural behaviour they will always do, so why not give them something appropriate to scratch on?  Not all cats scratch alike, however, so be sure to invest in a variety of options to find out what works best.  Find some helpful hints here.


(Scratching posts can be simple….or very complex!)

2. Trimming your cat’s nails regularly will greatly decrease the likelihood of damage to yourself and your belongings.  If you don’t know how, we are happy to teach you.  Also, if your cat has had vaccines with us in the last year, we will even trim them for you once a month at no charge.

Cat Nail Clippers

3. In off limits areas, you can try deterrents such as double-sided tape, aluminum foil, or car/chair mats with the spiky side up.  Cats generally don’t like the sensation of these things under their feet and will find a happier scratching spot elsewhere.  (This also can help with cats who hop on counters where they aren’t invited).

4. Did we mention scratching posts? 🙂

Horizontal post

5. Nail caps such as Soft Paws may be used to prevent damage from scratching.  These caps fit over the nail like artificial nails for humans and provide a soft tip so that scratching doesn’t cause damage.  This may be especially helpful in adult cats as you attempt other techniques to re-train them to proper scratching areas.

Soft Paws

We have tons of great information available about declaw alternatives and we’d be happy to share more ideas, tips and tricks with you.

What if it’s too late?  What if you, like many others, have already had your cat declawed?  Although you may be feeling badly about this decision, know that it’s never too late to provide the best care possible for your cat.  We recommend scheduling a visit with your veterinarian to discuss the more subtle ways your cat may be telling you she’s hurting.  Proper pain management may change your pet’s life.

If you have questions or concerns about declaws, please contact us at 902-893-2341.  We’re always happy to hear from you!



Heartworm – Should You Be Worried?

Courtesy of:  Dr. Melissa

Most of us visiting a veterinary clinic regularly are familiar with monthly parasite prevention for fleas, ticks and intestinal worms. These are bugs we often see on our pets, and it makes sense to prevent them!  There are parasites that are more difficult to see however…and one of those is heartworm.  Although heartworm disease is not common in our area, many parasite preventives are effective against it, and for good reason!

Heartworm infection happens when an infected mosquito bites a dog or cat and deposits larvae.  These larvae become young adults, then migrate to the heart and pulmonary arteries.  Mature female worms release larvae (microfilariae) into the bloodstream which are then picked up by more mosquitoes.  It takes 6-7 months for this process to occur.  Areas with warm climates (ie. more mosquitoes) pose a much higher risk to pets, especially in the summer months.  It is endemic (very common) in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coastline, the Mississippi River, Australia, Japan and the Mediterranean.  Male outdoor dogs and sporting breeds are more prone to infection because of higher exposure to mosquitoes.  Although cats can be infected with heartworm, they are more resistant to the disease.

Most pets with heartworm show no symptoms, which means the only way to know is to test for it.  With a small blood sample, we can test for heartworm in our hospital in 10-15 minutes.  More specialized tests are needed in some cases.  Once the disease is mature and has progressed symptoms include coughing, exercise intolerance, weight loss, and collapse.  Heartworm disease can be life threatening, eventually causing right-sided heart failure.

It is much easier to prevent heartworm than treat for it.  Treatment is expensive with the potential for serious side effects, and permanent lung damage from the disease is common.

Animals in our area most at risk for heartworm infection are those who come from or travel to temperate climates.  For example, getting a dog from a rescue group in an area with heartworm, or traveling to Florida for the winter.  These pets should be on monthly preventives for heartworm, especially while traveling and for two months when they return home.  A heartworm test should be done each spring, especially if you have missed doses of medication.

If you have any questions regarding heartworm disease or parasite prevention in general, please call us at 893-2341!

Roxie gets heartworm preventative monthly, just in case!


NOT The Happiest Place On Earth!

Courtesy of: Cecelia

My cat, Tom, was one of a kind.  He was my sweetie.  Tom always showed his affectionate side for friends and family but he had another side too.  That side he saved for visits to the vet.  He hated coming to the vet hospital for his visits and I hated to take him.

Tom relaxing at home

I got Tom after working in a veterinary hospital for 2 years.  I knew then (and still know now) that regular visits to the vet for health care are important to identify small problems before they became big problems.  Tom’s regular vet care allowed him to live 18 wonderful years.

Tom was brought to Truro Vet when he was 4 months old to be ‘put to sleep’.  He was a small ball of black fur with a white bib and dazzling eyes.  It didn’t take long for him to win my heart and for the next 18 years he honoured me by being my cat.  The only time I didn’t feel that honour was when I got out the carrier to take him to work with me for a vet visit!

Maybe it was his traumatic experience as a young kitten, being dropped off for euthanasia, or maybe it was that his life with me was so sheltered that any experience that was different was scary to him.  Maybe it was the unusual and sometimes scary smells from other animals that I brought home on my clothing or maybe it was the famous feline ESP.  However he knew, he understood what the carrier meant and he would go into evasive action the minute he saw it.

I tried many things to lessen the trauma for him. Some helped and some did not.  Through the process of trial and error, I was able to lessen his anxiety.  It seemed as I did things to lessen his worry, my worry decreased too and that made a big difference for both of us.

Tips to make your feline friend’s vet visit go purrfectly:

For some cats, a trip to the vet office is just an excuse to get a great back scratch and face rub, but to cats like Tom, it is a trip to hell.

Imagine the vet visit from a frightened kitty’s prospective.  First, there is the hateful carrier. That box of containment that makes many cats run from the sight.  Why? Some cats appear to believe that the carrier is going to eat them whole and they fight desperately to avoid the jaws (aka the door).  Next comes the car ride.  The trip in that smelly, noisy machine that rumbles and reminds them of the last time they were in the car…the last vet visit.  It is not surprising that by the time that your cat makes it to the office, adrenaline levels are soaring for both the cat and their human companions.

Our pets are very empathetic.  If you are stressed, so too is your kitty.  Even an Academy Award winning performance cannot fool your cat.  Our cats know us so well, they can see through the entire charade.  Some people even feel that their cats can eavesdrop on the phone call to book the appointment!  It’s true that many cats conveniently ‘go missing’ at their appointment time.

Thankfully with a little planning, there are several things that we can do to alleviate some of this stress.

  • Start by choosing a day when you are not rushed and can feel a sense of calm.
  • If possible, select a day when the weather is expected to be fine.  Ideally, good road conditions make less scary noises in the car.
  • When you call for an appointment, be open with us about any anxieties that you or kitty might have.  An appointment booked at the start of your vet’s shift or at the start of appointments after a supper break can mean little to no waiting time and less interaction with other animals. We can also pre-arrange to have you and your cat escorted to an exam room immediately on arrival rather then waiting in the reception area.
  • Have a cat carrier that can be easily dismantled so we can access your feline friend by removing the lid rather than dumping the cat out if she doesn’t want to come on her own.
  • Place an old towel in the carrier.  Sometimes stressed kitties going for a drive will lose control of their bladder and bowels. Absorbent bedding can make the clean up easier and preserve some of your cat’s dignity.
  • Spray the carrier and blanket in the carrier with Feliway.  Feliway is a product that is a pheromone (a scented hormone) that comes from cat’s facial glands. These glands produce a scent that has a calming effect on kitties. This can be used at home, in the carrier, car and vet office to ease stress.
  • About two weeks before the visit, leave the carrier out near the area where you would normally feed your cat.  Have the door open and place the food dish near the door. Gradually move the dish into the front of the carrier and then to the back of the carrier so that you kitty sees the carrier is a breakfast nook rather then big jaws.
  • The day or two before the visit, trim your cat’s nails.  This makes for a safer visit for everyone involved.
  • Skip the meal prior to the visit and just use a few treats to get your feline friend into the carrier. Travelling with an empty stomach helps with car sickness and might motivate tolerance of gentle handling in the office.  We have many treat types at the office but you might want to bring a few of her favorite treats.
  • When you and kitty arrive at the vet hospital ask to be put into an exam room as soon as possible.  Once in the room, open the carrier door and let your cat out to explore the room. Entice him with treats or toys. Catnip is not recommended. The effects of catnip can be unpredictable.
  • If you have more than one cat to bring, don’t put them in the same carrier.  Like people, at times of stress cats can redirect their frustrations and anxieties onto each other.  Having separate carriers or preferably separate visits, for your kitties is a wise step to lessen the stress.

If you have questions about making your cat’s trip to visit us as stress-free as possible, please give us a call at 893-2341.  Working together, we can all try to make your cat’s visit as easy and comfortable as possible.

Tom happy on his couch