Cats: Tips For A Stress-Free Trip

Courtesy: Boehringer Ingelheim

Compared with dogs, nearly three times as many cats in the U.S. did not receive any veterinary care in the past year. Often, this is due to difficulty in taking some cats to the veterinarian. We know that a trip to the veterinarian can be more stressful for cats than for dogs. In this issue, we provide you with some tips to help make your clinic visit more pleasant. Many of these tips may also apply to nervous dogs as well.

Buying a Carrier

  • Top-loading carriers make it easier to place your cat inside
  • Carriers with a top and side opening have additional versatility
  • If your carrier has a removable top, your cat may feel more secure remaining inside throughout the exam

Practice at Home

  • Leave the carrier out for several days before the appointment so your cat gets used to it
  • Put treats, toys, blankets and a favorite person's clothes in the carrier for a comfortable and familiar environment
  • Reinforce your cat's positive associations with the carrier using calm praise
  • Never dump your cat out of the carrier - either let her walk out or gently remove her from the carrier

Car Rides

  • Always put your cat in a carrier when traveling in the car - it's safer for you and your cat
  • A synthetic feline pheromone such as Feliway in the carrier may help your cat stay calm during transit
  • Drape a blanket or towel over the carrier to reduce motion sickness
  • Take your cat for a few short car rides to build familiarity
  • Do not feed your cat for several hours before traveling to reduce motion sickness
  • After each successful car trip, reward your pet with positive attention and treats

At the Clinic

  • Practice regular care such as brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing at home
  • Touch your cat's face, ears, feet and tail at home so she will be used to similar procedures at the clinic
  • Go to the veterinarian for visits that don't involve exams or procedures to create positive associations
  • Ahead of time, ask the clinic staff if you can take your kitty directly to an exam room upon arrival
  • Speak softly, because if you remain calm, chances are your cat will too

Calming Strategies

  • Reward good behavior with treats and ignore bad behavior - never speak harshly or use punishment
  • Avoid direct eye contact with your cat
  • Handle your cat with a towel if necessary
  • Speak in soft, soothing tones but avoid whispering

With these strategies, we hope that you feel more comfortable bringing your cat to the veterinary clinic. We recommend annual examinations for all cats, even those who reside indoors. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit, please contact us at (651) 645-2808 or group@stfrancisabh.com.

Summer: Hot Temperatures and Your Dog

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Your pet can rapidly overheat in the following situations:

  • When an animal is left outdoors in hot humid conditions without adequate shade
  • When exercised in hot humid weather
  • When left in a car even on a relatively cool (70°F) day --- this equals approximately 100°F in the car
  • Other predisposing factors may be obesity or diseases affecting a pet’s airway.

Preventing heat stroke is key, but if your dog has been in one of these situations, it is essential that you recognize the signs and respond promptly.

Initially the dog may appear distressed. He or she may be restless or panting more than usual. As the hyperthermia progresses, your dog may drool large amounts of saliva from the nose or mouth and may become weak or unsteady. You may notice the gums turning lavender or bright red in color.

What to Do
Remove your pet from the environment where the hyperthermia occurred. Move your pet to a shaded and cool environment, and if possible, obtain a rectal temperature. Begin to cool the body by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin region. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water. Directing a fan on these wetted areas will help to speed evaporative cooling.

Most importantly, transport your pet to the closest veterinary facility immediately.

If your pet is critical, it is best to go directly to a 24-hour hospital such as the Animal Emergency & Referral Center or to the U of M as extended intensive care will likely be necessary.

What NOT to Do
It is very important to not overcool the pet. Most pets with hyperthermia have body temperatures greater than 105°F, and a reasonable goal of cooling is to reduce your pet’s body temperature to 102.5-103°F while transporting her to the closest veterinary facility. Offer fresh cool water but do not force water into your pet’s mouth.

The most important thing is to prevent situations in which your pet could overheat. Never leave a pet in the car, even on a moderately warm day. Walk your dog in the early morning or evening hours when it is cooler and always have fresh water available when your pet is outside.

Anxiety: Thunderstorms or Fireworks

Does your dog shake when it starts to thunder? Does he hide when it begins to rain? Does she destroy the furniture when she's left alone during a thunderstorm? If you've answered yes, your dog may have a thunderstorm phobia. Fireworks can cause the same response.

If your pet has thunderstorm phobias or anxiety associated with fireworks, please talk to us - - we can help! Composure, herbal calming supplements (Composure or Solliquin), calming collars (Adaptil collar or NurtureCALM), or anti-anxiety medications such as trazodone, alprazolam, or Sileo are great options for your pet.

Sileo is a gel containing dexmedetomidine that is absorbed through the gums. It is an FDA-approved treatment for noise aversion. For most dogs, it calms without causing excessive sedation, though as with any medication, it is important to monitor closely for adverse effects with use. It should be administered 30-60 minutes prior to the event and can be redosed every 2 hours up to five times.

If we prescribe Sileo for your dog, it is very important that you understand how to dose it appropriately. Please discuss proper use of the dosing syringe and locking mechanism with the staff to avoid accidental overdose. Click here to learn more about Sileo and to watch a video on proper administration.

Please contact us at (651) 645-2808 if your pet suffers from anxiety associated with fireworks or thunderstorms.

News Briefs

Favorite Animal Hospital
Congratulations to St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital for being voted Women’s Press Magazine’s Favorite Animal Hospital in May.

Thank you for your patience during our construction this past week. St Francis will soon have a new roof --- and hopefully no more leaking!

Schedule Changes
We will be closing early on June 26th for the Rosefest Parade. We will also close early on September 27th and will have limited availability on September 30th.


Image credit:  uhercikova | Shutterstock