Low Stress Vet Visits in a Pet Centered Practice
Are your pets looking forward to visiting the vet or, like 40% of dogs and 60% of cats, they feel the “V” word is right out of a horror movie?
Russell lake Animal Hospital is Certified (Silver) in Low Stress Restraint and Handling.
Fear of the vet and veterinary clinic does not go away on its own. Without actively changing the pet’s feelings towards the visits, this fear will get worse and potentially turn into negative behaviours. It will make our work, providing care, difficult and make bringing your pet in for an annual visit more stressful.
Creating a fear free environment requires a collaborative approach between the staff and owners.
It requires the hospital staff to become proficient in pets behaviour and body language, acquire special techniques to help foster a positive relationship with the pet as well as structure the environment of the hospital so stress is minimized.
Low Stress Restraint and Handling skills and work philosophy, helped us become proactive in promoting a stress free environments for the pet (e.g. short or no wait times in reception, using pheromone diffusers, toys, pleasing surfaces and odors) as well as the ability to desensitize fearful pets to stressful situations such as vaccines, nail trims, blood draws etc.
The part of the pet parent is to ensure that the pet comes in as relaxed as possible to his or her appointment.
Here are the steps for creating fear free visits:
- Start early. Bring your puppy in for our free puppy socials, drop in occasionally and let your puppy interact with the staff, play and receive treats.
- Older dogs can also come for fun visits, to receive treats and experience positive interactions.
- Bring your dog in when you yourself are calm and positive.
- Bring your dog to appointments when he is hungry and therefore motivated to have lots of treats (or bring their food with you if you are concerned about their waistline).
- Before a potentially stressful visit, nervous dogs can wear an Adaptil collar (the collar releases a pheromone that helps promote a relaxed feeling in dogs) and can also take a supplement to reduce anxiety (two of the most common options are the Thera Bites Mellows and Zylkene).
- Use a top opening carrier preferably.
- Leave the carrier in an area of the house easily accessible to your cat and occasionally put treats or toys in there for her to find.
- Line the carrier with towels sprayed with Feliway Pheromone Spray prior to bringing your cat in so that he has a “safe” and familiar place to hide in if he feels like it.
- Bring your cat in for regular free “fun” visits were she can sit on the scale and receive treats and pets if she desires.
- Very nervous cats may also benefit from taking an anti-anxiety supplement called Zylkene prior to the visit.