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Monday, March 9, 2015

Why I tie- dyed my lab coats -  Stop  white coat syndrome in pets!

This little dog would only allow me to touch him without my lab coat on
Have you ever seen white coat syndrome with pets?  You know what I mean - the pet is calm, relaxed or even happy with the staff until the doctor walks in with the white coat.  I have seen this at my office, although the pets who have come in since  so used to rewards at the clinic from me as well as the staff, my uniform does not affect them much.  For other pets, the white coat means trouble.  Time for needles and poking around that is not fun.  When you remove your coat, the animal is less anxious. 

  We note on the medical record what pets have  white coat anxiety so I can remove my lab coat before I come into the room.  This has helped a lot  to keep the pet less anxious.   The problem now is,  how do I keep my clothes clean?  Personally,  I like the lab coat look for the doctor.  It distinguishes the doctor  from the rest of the staff.   So here is the quandary - how do I get the lab coat look without it  being white?  Would just a different color make a difference to these white coat syndrome pets?

In my search for non white lab coats, I found some  colored ones, and even rainbow tie dyed ones. They were too bold for my taste.  My tech suggested that I tie dye my old white coats  to experiment and make it kind of fun .  I have never tie dyed anything, but after reading a few crafting blogs on dyeing, it did  not seem  too  complicated.  I actually had fun doing it!

twisted up coat secured with rubber bands
I wanted to keep things as neat as possible and have a subtle dyeing effect.  The first coat I wetted down,  then using a paint brush I just brushed the dye, diluted to 2 ml dye to 1 pint hot water,  onto the coat.  I worked on this in a Rubbermaid under the bed storage box so the mess would be contained.  After I brushed the dye on, I let it sit in the covered tub for 8 hours, then rinsed it clean.  I had a neat, watercolor effect to my coat which everyone liked.  The second coat I used rubber bands to make the typical tie dye effect.  I used the same tub and a small squirt bottle to control applying the dye.  This one had more pattern but was still subtle. 
For others I twisted the coat around and held it with rubber bands - this has a star burst effect.   For these coats I kept the same ratio of dye to liquid but made a larger volume to soak the coat in. 
Use metal tongs to rotate the coats in the dye

   I began  wearing these coats, which  took a little for me to get used to.  I guess I am a traditionalist when it comes to lab coats.  I pursued, and  one day, a dog who is usually nervous for exams  was acting much better.  I was wearing the tie dyed coat and I noticed on the record this dog did not like white coats. I had forgotten to look at the record ( my bad!) and kept my tie dyed lab coat on.  He was much less anxious with the tie dye coat on.  I have made an effort to wear the tie dyed coats with white coat syndrome dogs and they are all acting a lot better. So now I have my solution - a lab coat that protects me,  and does not trigger anxiety in  the pets as much.