While it’s important to maintain a relationship with a local veterinary clinic, a house call practice can take a lot of stress out of your dog or cat’s wellness visits.
Visiting the vet usually isn’t very enjoyable. Struggling to get your kitty into the carrier, cleaning up stress vomit in the car, and seeing your four-legged friend feeling anxious at the clinic can make the experience extremely unpleasant for all involved. Veterinary visits are an important part of your dog or cat’s healthcare, but utilizing a house call veterinarian can be significantly less stressful for both of you. While it’s important to maintain a relationship with a brick-and-mortar veterinary hospital, at-home care offers many benefits to your dog or cat.
TOP 4 BENEFITS OF HAVING A HOUSE CALL VET
As a house call veterinarian, I can vouch that 99% of dogs and cats are more comfortable receiving veterinary care in their homes. Here are four top advantages of using a house call vet:
1. THE VET CAN SPEND MORE PERSONAL TIME WITH YOUR ANIMAL.
On average, house call veterinarians will spend more time with you and your dog or cat. This allows them to get to know you and your animal in your everyday environment. House call veterinarians can better identify mobility issues by observing your dog or cat jumping on and off the couch, for example, and can help identify small home improvements (such as litter box placement for a senior kitty) to promote a healthier daily lifestyle. The vet can identify toxic houseplants, read the ingredients on your bag of pet food, and get a clear sense of household dynamics. The veterinary visit tends to feel more personal and friendly for you and your animal.
2. CATS ARE GOING TO BE MORE COOPERATIVE.
Almost everything about cats is easier at home. Cats have a more sensitive threshold to stress and handling, and many are ready to explode by the time they make it to a veterinary exam table. When they get to skip the carrier, car ride, and strange surroundings, veterinary care becomes a lot easier. Many cats that need to be heavily sedated in veterinary clinics need minimal intervention at home. Much of a physical examination can be done without the cat even being aware it’s happening. Being in their own environment allows your kitty to have a sense of control and gives them the opportunity to take breaks if their stress levels begin to rise.
3. YOU WON’T BE SEPARATED FROM YOUR ANIMAL.
Many clinics take dogs and cats to a treatment room behind closed doors. This can cause stress for both the people and their animals. If your veterinarian is in your living room, you are with your dog or cat during the entire visit. (If you wish to skip seeing their blood collected, you can always duck into another room!) Often, animals feel more comfortable being restrained in the presence of the people they know and love. They appreciate your gentle touch and familiar, soothing voice.
4. THE VET CAN GET AN ACCURATE BLOOD PRESSURE READING.
This is a very specific but important benefit of an in-home visit. Many cats and dogs develop high blood pressure in their senior years. Unfortunately, blood pressure measurements performed in a clinic setting are often high due to excessive stress. For this reason, many clinics do not routinely measure blood pressure, leading to missed hypertension in many cats and some dogs.
PREPARING FOR A HOUSE CALL VISIT
House call visits are more costly because of the veterinarian’s travel time and expenses, along with the fact that they often spend more time with you and your animal. Here are some things you can do to prepare for and maximize the benefits of each visit.
MAKE A LIST OF QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS. Your veterinarian will often have many questions that may distract you from asking your own. A list will help you stay on track and write notes. You may even elect to record your conversation to play back for clarity. If your animal’s diagnosis or treatment plan is complicated, this may help you stay organized.
TAKE YOUR DOG ON A WALK OR RUN. Exercising your dog before the visit gives them a chance to eliminate and release some extra energy. A pre-appointment walk is especially useful for young dogs or high energy breeds.
FIND THE RIGHT SPACE FOR YOUR KITTY. Cats do best in a room where they can hide or seek shelter while still being accessible to the veterinarian. Consider all the places your cat could hide that could become inaccessible — e.g. under beds, behind couches, on high shelves. While your veterinarian will most likely help you move your couch or retrieve your cat from under the bed, your time is better spent focusing on your kitty’s health rather than playing hide and seek.
KEEP YOUR ANIMAL’S FAVORITE TREATS CLOSE BY. While your veterinarian may already have treats in their bag, it can be helpful to keep some of your dog or cat’s favorite go-to treats on hand. Tasty snacks can help your veterinarian bond with your animal, and distract your dog or cat during veterinary care.
PROVIDE MEDICAL RECORDS. Sending the house call veterinarian previous veterinary records from other clinics, including emergency and specialty centers, can help them make the best assessment of your dog or cat. Be sure to provide your animal’s medical notes and not just the invoices.
Whether you have a senior dog who’s hard to lift into the car, or a cat that’s way too stressed by trips to the vet, a house call veterinarian is an excellent individual to add to your animal’s medical team. Many cats and dogs don’t even know a physical examination is being performed when it’s done by a friendly visitor giving them extra snuggles and cookies on the couch.
Veterinarian Dr. Angie Krause graduated from Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She incorporates many modalities into her practice, including acupuncture and herbal formulas as well as laser therapy, myofascial release, physical therapy, nutrition and more. Dr. Angie’s goal is to use the body’s innate healing ability to improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats. She has a house call practice called Boulder Holistic Vet (BoulderHolisticVet.com).