From veterinarians to groomers to massage therapists, animal care professionals offer mobile services to cater to the needs of their four-footed clients and their families.
“My dog should have a check-up, but she’s terrified of going to the vet clinic.” “I have a Shih-tzu that needs regular grooming, but I’m a senior and don’t drive anymore.”
These are just two people who would benefit from the many mobile animal services springing up across the country. These businesses and organizations cater to people who, for one reason or another, need help transporting their animals or caring for them at their own homes. They’re also invaluable to those with busy schedules who just don’t have the time to shuttle their animals back and forth to appointments. Here’s a look at a few mobile services that can make life easier and more enjoyable for you and your companion.
Veterinary house calls
“Dogs and cats can be stressed at the prospect of going to the veterinarian’s office,” says Dr. Patrick Mahaney, an integrative veterinarian who makes house calls. “For some animals, it’s one of the few times they get into the car or pet carrier. Even properly seat-belted, an anxious dog can injure himself during a trip to the vet’s office.” Veterinary house calls can be a godsend to easily-stressed animals or those who are older or have health issues that may be compromised through exposure to other animals.
Veterinarian Dr. Aleda Cheng uses a combination of Chinese and Western medicines, special diets, vitamins and acupuncture when making house calls on her cancer patients. “T is a golden retriever who was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen,” she says of one of her home care patients. “She is symptom free and the tumor hasn’t spread. She is on a maintenance protocol with acupuncture treatments every few months and a decreasing need for herbs and supplements.”
When Lynn Edwards took Dirty Dogs Pet Services on the road, she groomed dogs for elderly clients or stay-at- home moms with young children – both groups had trouble transporting their dogs to the grooming salon.
Lynn finds dogs are more cooperative when groomed at home, and Rick Arevalo of Aussie Pet Mobile agrees. Aussie’s vans are equipped with hydraulic lifts so dogs are raised to tub level – this means they aren’t stressed by having to jump into the tub, and their people don’t risk hurting their backs by lifting them. “Everything we do is in the best interests of the dog,” says Rick.
Aussie also works for the best interests of the planet; solar panels supply power for keeping the van cool during grooming appointments, and the company uses all-natural shampoos and even recycles clipped hair. “We have been quite active in sending hair to help in the absorption of the Gulf oil spill,” says Rick.
Helping the elderly
In Sheridan, Wyoming, volunteers from Second Chance Sheridan Cat Rescue provide an Elderly Services Program so older folks can keep their cats. Volunteers visit people’s homes to clean litter boxes and help with nail clipping or trips to the vet. For seniors who can’t get out to shop for their companions, volunteers will bring them cat food and litter. “We ask people to pay for the food and litter but hope to get to the point where this isn’t necessary,” says owner Rachel Kristiansen. “Our service is otherwise free, though some people do make a donation. And it’s not limited to those who adopted their cats from us.”
Volunteers can also help with other issues. For example, client Lynn Lillibridge asked for assistance with two fighting cats. “We used massage techniques and essential oils, learned the types of food and litter they prefer and taught them to use a scratching post,” says Lynn. “Now the cats are happier and healthier.”
Mobile massage therapy
“Most of my clients are dogs,” says masseuse Chris Shaughness of Pet Therapy Services. Chris brings her massage expertise right into the homes of her animal clients. In her experience, the dogs love it. One Corgi client ran to his bed when Chris arrived and snoozed through the massage. “Of the dogs I massage, most are older with arthritis or have had ACL (knee) injuries,” says Chris. “I’ve been working with a collie every month for the past six years, starting when he was two years old. He has some limping so his owner takes him to a chiropractor every month. I give him a massage before he goes, to make the adjustments easier.”
Hospice at home
When animals get old and start to ail, multiple vet trips are sometimes necessary – and that just adds to the stress. Dr. Mary Gardner’s practice, Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, focuses exclusively on end-of-life issues. She works with families in their homes to assist animals with pain management and appetite stimulation, and helps people know when it’s time to say goodbye. Wound dressing, fluid therapy and other treatments keep the animals comfortable in their own environment.
“When the time comes for euthanasia, we go back to the home to perform that service,” says Dr. Gardner. “Clients appreciate this so much because they do not have to make that dreaded last drive to the vet, and the dog or cat is with his family in his own home. Just as importantly, the client doesn’t have to walk through an office lobby in tears after the euthanasia, and try to drive home.”
It’s the ice cream truck!
One of the main reasons for using mobile services is to save time. But some services are geared toward just brightening your dog’s day. Canine companions in New Hampshire, for example, know that when they hear an ice cream truck, they won’t be left out. Located in Exeter on the seacoast, Yoghund creates organic frozen yogurt treats for dogs. The treats are carried by a local vendor with two fleets of ice cream trucks traveling in three territories – customer Sue Onufer says her 14-year-old beagle loves having these delicious treats delivered almost to their door.
Spay and neuter clinics
To help control animal populations, the ASPCA offers mobile spay and neuter clinics in New York’s five boroughs. Each mobile unit has the ability to operate on 25 dogs and cats per day. Low income families or those with pit bulls or pit mixes are eligible for no-cost surgeries. Microchipping is available as well, and all animals are tattooed to identify them as spayed or neutered.
Limo service is not just for humans. When necessary, you can hire companies that will safely transport your animal companion long distances. “Our dogs were with me in Vancouver but needed to be with my husband in Los Angeles,” says Dianna Davis. “I didn’t want to put them through the stress of flying so I booked their trip with Royal Paws, an animal transport company. They used two drivers in an SUV – professionally trained dog handlers – so my dogs were in LA the following morning, even after a three-hour delay at the border.”
Photos posted on Facebook by the company allowed Dianna to follow her dogs’ journey. “Your dog can have his own food, bedding and toys, walks every few hours and is never left unattended,” Dianne says. “The price can be hard to swallow, but when you add up the cost of doing it yourself, there isn’t that much difference. It’s door to door service. It’s peace of mind.”