Most pet parents assume when they take their cat or dog to the vet, that their only job is to make sure the pet survives the car journey and arrives there safely. While driving with pets can be traumatizing for the animal, and can cause motion sickness, the pet-owner has far more responsibility that simply dropping the bedraggled creature off at the clinic. Before you and your cat or dog head out to the veterinarian’s office, here are some important elements that will help you prepare for the examination ahead of time. Being ready for the visit is an important part of maximizing your pet health care experience.


  • Be sure that your dog or cat is wearing his collar. (If your dog has been known to nip or bite, or bark when in a new environment, consider bringing a muzzle along.)
  • Locate your leash, harness and keep the carrying crate nearby so you are not made late by digging around for them just minutes before the appointment.
  • Bring a handful of treats in a bag, so that you can reward your pet after the car ride, and after the vet visit, so that he will associate the experience positively. (Having treat will also enable you to offer incentives for your pet after they have obeyed commands like “sit” or “stay” during the journey.)
  • Keep your pet’s favorite toy with you either in the car ride over, or at the veterinarian’s office while you wait, as this will help calm the nerves by smelling like home.
  • Bring the pet’s latest health records, and list of shots or treatments your pet has had within the last year. (This is particularly necessary if it is a new vet, or if they animal has had a reaction to a certain kind of food or medication recently.)
  • Go above and beyond: Bring a stool sample in a small zip-lock bag, so that in case the veterinarian requests it for intestinal parasite testing, you will not need to return another day, but will have the fecal matter ready for him to use.

Think Ahead

Consider if anything has been out of the ordinary in the last year. Did anything unexpected happen in your pet’s behavior or routine? Has your cat or dog been behaving strangely in any way, or have there been any changes in their daily routine? If you are considering pet health insurance, ask the vet about the most economic options, or what he would recommend.

Before you go to the vet, take 15 minutes to think of any questions you might have for him during your visit. While there are always helplines and on-call specialists to give advice over the phone in emergencies, you can potentially avert future disaster by settling some of your most pressing questions when you meet with the vet in person.