At some stage in your pet’s life a trip to the vets will be required – annual vaccinations, health concerns, relocation to another country, and so on. This can be stressful for both the owner and the pet. Obviously as a pet owner, we all want what is best for our animals, which includes making sure they receive the best veterinary care possible.

We have put together some handy tips for you to ensure both you and your pet travel safely and securely with the least amount of stress!

How should I transport my pet?

  • Firstly, don’t assume your pet will be the same in public as at home. Tiddles and Rex may be the best behaved at home, but fear may make them react in different ways, especially when around other animals they don’t know.
  • Never, ever, travel with your cat loose in the car – your feline friend should always be secure in a carrier. Cats who are carried in someone’s arms may become spooked or anxious, causing injury to themselves or their owner, and can possibly run away once outside the car. Cats loose in the car may want to roam around and get under pedals or otherwise distract the driver.
  • Small dogs should also be in a carrier, while larger dogs should be restrained. Remember your dog will need to be on a lead when brought into the clinic.
  • Birds should be in a travel cage – no toys or other paraphernalia which can get in the way and which allows the vet to handle the bird safely. Likewise for smaller animals such as hamsters and rabbits.
  • Make sure the carrier, crate or cage is secure in the car, so that it cannot move around. Depending on the size, you can secure it using the seat belts.
  • Some animals just hate getting in to the carrier (I’m talking cats here!). If it won’t go in of its own accord, you can take said cat and place it in the carrier through the top opening or remove the top completely (see below about types of carriers to use). Have a towel or blanket handy, preferably one she is used to or use a pheromone spray.
  • Once on the road, don’t drive too fast, rush around corners or blast over speed bumps; this will unnecessarily upset your pet, as well as potentially cause injuries. Avoid loud music and conversation. Instead talk quietly to your pet to keep them calm.
  • Upon arriving at the clinic, take care walking from your car to the reception area. Don’t bump, shake or knock the carrier. Once inside, find the relevant waiting area: there may be a dedicated space for cats and dogs, and some such as Qatar Vet Center have an elevated ‘lounge’ for cats as they like to be up high. If using a carrier or cage, you can cover it with a towel, but make sure your pet can see you and not other animals, and always keep it closed.
  • This whole routine can be followed in reverse for the journey home. For a multi-cat household, once at home leave the returning cat in the carrier for a short time and wait for your other cats’ reactions. If all is well, open the carrier; if not, it is likely due to strange scents and smells, so you may want to separate the returning cat for a day.

How can I reduce stress for me and my pet?

  • The transportation anguish can sometimes be lessened by doing ‘dummy runs’ with treats and affection as rewards when you’re all back home. This works especially well with dogs as they often travel in the car for walks, but the main thing is that your pet doesn’t associate the car with just going to the vet.
  • Try to pick your vet’s quietest time as some pets are stressed by the other animals waiting at the clinic or delays in being seen. At the moment, due to coronavirus, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem as clinics are operating a ‘one in, one out’ policy. It is recommended that cats and small animals remain the car until you are asked to come in to the clinic, and dogs must be kept on a lead whether in or out of the car.
  • Have a clear idea of anything you would like to discuss with the vet before you get there to reduce the time spent at the clinic. Jot down anything regarding your pet’s health that you want investigating. If you have already discussed this over the telephone prior to the consultation or it is a repeat visit, make sure you are aware of any special requests from the vet such as fasting. Be on time and call ahead if you are bringing more animals than you originally stated. Remember to take the vaccination card!
  • One final thing – try to stay as calm as possible. Dogs and cats are good at picking up on their owner’s emotions, so act as if everything is fine and hopefully it will be!

What sort of carrier do I need?

  • Always choose a robust carrier, one that can safely hold your pet, and one appropriate for its size and weight. You don’t need anything too fancy, just practical and functional.
  • The cat carrier should open at the front and from the top – the top should be easily removable so that the cat can be examined in the bottom half if it is anxious.
  • Put something inside the carrier like a towel or toy with the animal’s scent. For cats, you could spray a synthetic feline pheromone such as Feliway on the item about half an hour before you plan to leave. Have spare bedding in case your pet is sick or soils in the carrier during the journey, and use pee pads if appropriate.
  • There is no need to have water, food or litter inside the carrier. This can get spilled during transit and make your pet more anxious – and wet!
  • Often the owner gets stressed because the pet will not go into the carrier, which in turn makes the animal stressed. Make this (slightly) easier by leaving the carrier out in the home, so that it is part of the furniture.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pets, those friendly folks at Qatar Vet Centre will be more than happy to assist. They have a selection of carriers, harnesses and cages which they can show you how to use, as well as Feliway.

Qatar Vet Centre contact details: 4421 6405 (Al Aziziya branch), 4498 9620 (Al Duhail branch),