Getting Your Cat in The Carrier

Getting Your Cat in The Carrier

Most cat owners understand and dread the idea of having to place their normally sweet, gentle kitty into a carrier for a trip to the veterinarian. Getting your cat in the carrier can result in your perfectly peaceful feline turning into a ball of claws and teeth, fighting to flee.

First, it is important to start with the proper carrier to transport your kitty. Cats don’t like to be exposed to uncomfortable or new environments. It is important to introduce your cat to the carrier before you need to use it for transport. Make it a familiar, secure and pleasant place so your cat feels comfortable and safe being in and around the carrier. This can mean getting the carrier out and open a few days before your trip and leaving a few pieces of kibble or a treat in the bottom. Or use a pheromone spray or wipe to help calm your cat. I keep my carriers open and stored on the floor of my laundry room.

Being a house with 8 cats, my cats enjoy being able to “hide” from the other kitties in carriers on occasion. This has helped them be acccepting when they need to be placed in the carrier for an occasional trip to my mom’s.

#1 Keep a calm upbeat attitude. Cats will feed off of our anxiety.

#2 Prepare your cat carrier. Make sure there are not lose or sharp pieces. Place a soft adsorbent towel in the bottom of the carrier. This will make your cat for more secure and will help if your cat should soil the carrier.

#3 Locate your cat well in advance of your trip. If your cat is known to hide for long periods of time or is an outside cat, it is a good idea to find them and put them in a secure room where you can easily get them. Remember to take into account places your cat can hide in the room.  No one wants to have to crawl under bed to get a hissing, spitting ball of fur. I find the laundry room or bathroom are the best places to keep them secure until travel time.

#4 If your cat is social and you are not worried about locating them. Before attempting to load your cat into the carrier, it is best to put the carrier into a secure room and then carry your kitty to the secure room to load them into their carrier. This will be help keep the cat in one small area if your normally calm cat tries to escape.

#5 Leave yourself plenty time to get your cat loaded into their carrier. It is always better to have your cat loaded up and ready to go than be running around trying to make your appointment.  Your cat will perceive your stress and act accordingly.

#6 Calmly enter the room and approach your cat. Speak in a calm, even tone telling your cat how pretty, smart, sweet, furry, etc. they are.

#7 Find the best way to get your cat in their carrier. If your carrier has a top loading cage door:

    • Place the carrier on its bottom and open the top cage lid.
    • Pick your cat up under his front and back legs.
    • Lower your cat feet first into the carrier trying to keep the cat compact in a ball to keep them from using their feet to get away.
    • Close the door and secure the latch.

If your cage only has a front cage door:

  • Place the carrier on its end so the open door is facing the ceiling.
  • Pick your cat up under his front legs, with your other hand supporting his bottom.
  • Lower your cat rear-end first into carrier – this way they will not feel like they’re being forced into a situation where there is no way out.
  • Close the door and secure the latch, then gently return the carrier to the correct position.

It is important to remember to try to keep the events of traveling to the vet as stress free as possible. With proper planning and a calm attitude, a trip to the veterinarian can be as stress free as possible and you and your fun, furry ball of feline love can continue to live in peace.

4th of July Safety for Your Pet

4th of July Safety for Your Pet

Fireworks Photo #1The 4th of July, the celebration of the birth of our nation, is a day of good food, fun, celebrating with friends and family, and fireworks.  But for some of our pets, it can be a day of anxiety. Pets experience the world through their senses and those senses – smell, vision, and hearing- are overloaded.  It is a natural instinct for pets to be afraid of loud noises as a survival instinct, particularly since pet’s hearing is much more sensitive than humans.  The loud noises of fireworks can trigger your pet’s nervous system to make them anxious and afraid.  As a result of this natural survival instinct, dogs and cats run away on the Fourth of July more than any other day of the year.  There are some important things to remember about 4th of July safety your pet.

Rockets’ Red Glare…May Make Your Pet Scared

Below are some tips to help keep your pet calm during this stressful time.

Safe Comfortable Place

It’s best to leave pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV on at normal volume to dampen jarring noises. Pets that are usually kept outdoors should be brought inside as an extra measure of safety. If you are worried or know your pet reacts negatively to fireworks try to arrange to have your pet in a place where there won’t be fireworks and they feel comfortable – a friend or relative’s house, boarding facility or doggie day care. If you cannot take your pet to a place away from fireworks, find a place where your pet feels comfortable. For dogs that are crated, their crate is their safe place and will help with anxiety. Make sure to leave them with a few treats and/or a favorite toy to keep them happy and occupied. For cats and dogs that are not crated, a small room where they can not injure themselves or cause destruction is the best choice. For more information about what to look for in a boarding facility – check out this link.


If you are going to be with your dog during the fireworks, sending the calming message that there is nothing to worry about will also help them to relax. Remember, though, while humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with their bodies, and will look to you for clues on how they should behave. If you’re not making a big deal or showing excitement about the fireworks, then he will learn to be less concerned as well. Some owners find it helps to take their dog for a long walk to tire them out prior to fireworks and put them in a calm state.


Make sure your pet is wearing proper identification in case they run away.  This way if they are found they can be easily returned to you.


If you have found that your pet does not respond well to fireworks, and the above tips do not help, sedation may be necessary. Sedative medication requires a visit with one of our veterinarians to find the proper medication to help relieve the anxiety associated with fireworks. It is important to plan a few weeks in advance so you can be prepared by the Fourth of July. Before giving sedative medication try to bring your pet to a calm state before giving the medication. A stressed out pet will react differently to sedative medication than a pet that is calm. If your pet is already experiencing a high anxiety level, her mental state will overrule the medication.  Click here to request an appointment.

When Independence Day is over, your pet will be grateful to you for having made it a less stressful experience.

-Meghan Burnell, AS
Veterinary Technician

Oh how we love our puppies!

Oh how we love our puppies!

To celebrate our puppies we decided to ask some of our colleagues about their puppies.

Q1: Why did you choose the breed of dog you have? 

Q2: What was the hardest part of having this breed of dog as a puppy?


Dr. Hanlon and Diane, Business Manager, talk about Mary Grace “Gracie” and Gabriel (Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldogs):


Q1 – A: Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldogs fit our lifestyle.  We definitely like Gracie and Gabriel’s size and short coat – it makes bathing an easy affair. They both have sweet and loving personalities.

Q2 – A: Gracie chewed on the couch but we were able to train her so it is no longer an issue. Gabriel is 8 months old and still likes to chew on laundry and a chair.  But we are still training and are hopeful that it will result in it no longer being an issue.

Dr. Smith talks about Sampson (Chihuahua) and Riley (Mix Breed):


Q1 – A: My wife wanted a smaller dog so we got Sampson and we found Riley through my work, so she chose us.

Q2 – A: Sampson was very hard to house train. We still have occasional issues with accidents in the house. Riley chewed on everything.

Michelle, Marketing Manager, talks about Charlie (Dachshund):


Q1 – A: I was actually looking to adopt a dog and had seen a dachshund puppy during my search. I had not been familiar with this breed and began doing research on them. I was living in an apartment at the time so the size of the dog and energy level were big factors. As I was leaving for work one morning a neighbor was walking their dog, a dachshund, who followed me to my car and jumped up on me. I had never seen this neighbor or dog before and I began telling him that I was actually thinking of adopting a dachshund. He then told me that “Oscar” is looking for a forever home due to them downsizing from a house. He was a year old at the time. That evening “Oscar” came home with me and became Charlie. So in the end, I didn’t choose Charlie… he chose me! I now have two miniature dachshunds and I am without a doubt a huge fan of this breed. They have such unique personalities. They are very smart and very entertaining. They are also very protective and can become aggressive when they feel there is a threat to their owners or themselves.

Q2 – A: Charlie was a year old when I adopted him and was not yet fixed. So I feel like I still experienced the puppy stage and early training trials and tribulations. I crated him when I went to work. They say that a dog won’t go to the bathroom where they sleep. Well, this is not true. Charlie had many accidents in his crate throughout the day. He was also very protective and quite aggressive. I assumed that after he was fixed this would change and it didn’t. We eventually had to bring in a trainer. It seems like the things that were difficult when we first adopted Charlie tend to still come up every now and then.

Todd, Operations Director, talks about Logan (Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog):


Q1 – A: I have always like big dogs with short hair. Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldogs are very easy to house train but they need a firm owner. I have come to find out that he’s tough but very sensitive when he gets in trouble he pouts and sits in the corner by the window! Just because he is very big doesn’t mean he’s slow!! He’s very active and easily keeps up with us on 3-6 mile hikes.

Q2 – A: Mr. Logan ate everything from bath puffs, flip flops, jeans, a few pair of sneakers, and he also de stuffed a few pillows along the way.

Amanda, Team Leader, talks about Cammi and Bella (Pitbull Mixes):


Q1 – A: I chose Cammi and Bella because I love bigger breed dogs, and their faces were too adorable to pass up! We were planning on getting one dog when we looked, but I could not stand to separate the sisters. Luckily my husband agreed, and we went shopping for everything puppy pink!

Q2 – A: CHEW, CHEW, CHEW! It took them about 3 years to get out of their chewing everything habit. They were so easy to house break, they are super cuddly, and they love everyone.

 Tiffany, Practice Manager, talks about Jake (Havanese mix) and Maggie (Chocolate Labrador Retriever):


Q1 – A: I chose Jake from an Arizona rescue and we have been inseparable ever since.  My husband, Sal, chose Maggie because he had always wanted a bigger dog and loves labs.

Q2 – A: Maggie liked to chew on lots of things including my new shoes!! Jake was easy to train and has become an independent (not needy) kind of dog.

Alyssa, Team Leader, talks about Moses (Golden Retriever):


Q1 – A: We chose Moses because we wanted to get our first family dog, and had heard that Golden Retrievers were a very good breed.  They are loyal, kind-hearted, good with kids and other animals, energetic, and lived long lives.

Q2 – A: The hardest part about having him as a puppy was the hair – he shed!!! Even up to this day, that is the ONLY thing that is dislikable about him.  His house breaking went great! And he didn’t have the bad habit of chewing on everything.  He was just “happy”.

Becca, Veterinary Technician, talks about fostering puppies (lots of different breeds):


Q1 – A: I choose to foster because every dog deserves a home. Dogs are surrendered for multiple reasons and many times it is not their fault. Often time dogs are surrendered due to behavioral issues that could have been helped with proper training and love.  I hope to give the hopeless a forever home.

Q2 – A: I have run into every issue you can think of when it comes to puppies including chewing, house breaking, behavioral issues, etc.  Being a foster parent, I am used to and like to help with every issue that may arise.


Remember there are many puppies looking for forever homes.  Here are some things you can to do to help those less fortunate puppies:

–  Adopt a puppy from your local shelter or pure breed rescue organization.

–  Donate money, food and toys to your local shelter.

–  Volunteer at your local shelter. You can offer to walk or play with a puppy, clean cages or anything else they need help with.

There are many ways to celebrate the bond between you and your pet not just today but every day. So gather up all the squeaky toys, throw on your walking shoes, or snuggle with your perfect pooch and celebrate National Puppy Day!!

-Meghan, AS

Veterinary Technician

Back to School Anxiety in Your Pet 2016

Back to School Anxiety in Your Pet 2016

Summer is a great time filled with swimming, hiking, and playing in the yard with our faithful friends. As the summer comes to a close and parents send their children back to school, it is important to remember that our four legged friends may feel lonely after having their best buddies home all summer. As a result, pets may begin to exhibit new behaviors related to boredom or anxiety. Close to 20 percent of the nation’s 80 million dogs have separation anxiety per Dr. Nick Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts. Dogs with separation anxiety may show symptoms of barking, howling or whining for long periods of time. This is stressful for the dog and also can cause problems with neighbors who may be disturbed by the noise. Other dogs may begin to destroy items in the house including doors by scratching at them or damage blinds and curtains attempting to look out the window. Both of these can lead to your dog becoming injured. Other dogs may begin to have accidents in the house.

Dog anxiety photo

Pets are creatures of habit and it is important to establish clear rules and a set schedule to ensure they will be happy and well adjusted. This is especially true of dogs, because they tend to depend on their owner’s attention more so than cats. It is important to set and follow a daily routine that works for their lifestyle all year long. The schedule should include feeding, walks to one spot for elimination, walks off the property and appropriate play at approximately the same time every day. Establishing a routine your pet can depend on will help them weather any changes that may occur.


Some important rules to follow to help lower stress on your dog during this transition time include:

  • Make your departure a happy time with toys and treats. Save a special toy that your pet really loves and have your children give it to them just before they are ready to go out. Put it away again once the children come home so it remains the “special toy.”
  • Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe. This can be room where they will be unable to get injured or in trouble. Most cage trained dogs enjoy spending time in their kennel where they feel safe.
  • Keep your dog entertained. Hide favorite pet treats around the house for your pet to discover while you are away. Rubber Kongs or hard hollow bones can be stuffed with a little peanut butter or cream cheese and can even be frozen for a long lasting treat!
  • Start the new routine before school begins. Once school begins it is important to encourage your children once home from school to care for their pet’s needs and jump into a fun game of “fetch” or before starting other after school activities.
  • Doggie Day Care a few days a week is also great for the very social dog. It helps them to use up excess energy and be able to socialize with humans and dogs during the day when they may feel lonely.

If after a few weeks of following a set schedule you don’t notice an improvement in your pet it is important to see your local veterinarian. During your visit the veterinarian will be able to assess the situation further and help come up with a plan to help with separation anxiety. Behavior modification and/or medication may be prescribed to help with the symptoms. It is important to get treatment for your pet as soon as possible. Earlier treatment will lead to a better outcome. With proper planning, back to school can be a stress free time for you and your dog.

Meghan Burnell, AS, GVH Technician




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