|This how I examine a timid cat|
High volume - get them in get them out veterinary visits are easy on the pocket book but not on the pet, vet or owner. Why would I want to just rush you in and out? This approach leaves little time to fully examine your pet and inform you about what is best for your pet. The wham - bam approach leaves you to the internet, magazines or television to get your pet information which is not always accurate.. Rushed visits taking your to "the back" it often increases the stress for your pet. "What are they doing to my baby?" you may wonder.
Many clinics focus on efficiency by taking the pet to a treatment area where the trained technician and veterinarian work together. Many lawyers have strongly counseled veterinarians to take this approach. Why? Owners who become bitten, scratched have sued veterinary clinics even when the owner insisted on restraining their pet. Often these owner won large monetary judgements so the resulting solution was do not allow the owner anywhere near the pet while at the vet. So the legal advice focuses on the liability of the veterinarian ,not the pet's experience and behavior.At our office, we use our technical staff to reward the pet in all areas of the office. This will take a little more time the first visit or 2, but soon the pets are co operating much better to go to the exam area and we allow the clients to stay as the techs handle the pets in a low stress manner. It is a win -win for pet, staff and owner.
|treats in the waiting area - calm not nervous|
Through all of this, we have ignored the effect on the pet. Finally the tide is starting to turn. Veterinary technicians, assistants, and veterinarians are becoming educated to identify pets showing anxiety and pain during the veterinary exam. The early signs of fear need to be recognized to change the methods of handling to reduce stress on the pet. This is a new concept in handling animals. Classes are not routinely taught on this in college - it is at the post graduate convention level that many veterinarians and staff are learning how to reliably read the signs of low grade pain, fear, and aggression. When we immediately start to offer treats or use a calming spray, our clients comment about how this exam is one of easiest exams on their pet ever. They are often amazed when their little terrier now accepts the muzzle with treats and is not attempting to bite. The few minutes of rewarding, and reducing stress makes each visit quicker, more complete and safer for the staff and the pet. .
|this dog hated her nails clipped until she got treats|
When clients call around looking for a veterinarian, often the first questions are about the cost of care. Sure care costs money and there are different prices at different clinics. Not all clinics are managed, staffed and operated exactly the same. This is often where the price difference comes in. When a clinic takes a minimum of 30 minutes for a wellness exam, they charge more since they have more time and staff involved. This time is often spent in making the exam less upsetting for your pet, as well as time to help educate you. Ask the clinics you call what will they be doing - ask if they use less stressful handling techniques and rewarding. If they stumble to answer - keep calling around until you find a place that puts your pets mental/emotional needs ( and yours) equal with the physical needs.
|Even cats get treats during exams!|
As I present the concept of Bella Behavior - rewarding and recording what helps this pet to have the least stressed exam - I see staff starting to understand how and why low stress handling is best. Practice by practice change is happening. Be a part of that change by choosing a low stress clinic.