Evidence suggests that stress and anxiety have detrimental effects on the health and well-being of veterinary patients. It has always been a policy of ours to use the least amount of restraint possible when performing treatments, but with these new strategies, we are barely restraining anything! Dr. Acosta is well known for talking pets through every procedure. He always says, “if you’re going to bite me, just don’t bite me too hard.” He continues through his examination, blood draw, injection, nail trim, or all of the above, talking the patient calmly through each step. We have all taken to this special way of handling and now most of the conversations in the back of the hospital consist of us talking to our patients. We go slow, use calm voices and make sure our patients are comfortable and not stressed or scared. We even sometimes reschedule a pet that is too stressed out to handle, we don’t want to add to that and make things worse. It may be an inconvenience to have to come back again, but it also may be the difference between your pet loving or hating their veterinary visits.
Our large dog scale in the lobby is now covered with a soft, comfortable, non-slip mat. Believe it or not, the scale is more stressful than the thermometer for most dogs. The new mats are making a big difference. In the room, those big dogs are also examined on a large, non-slip mat, so they still feel like they are in control on our tile floors.
For our smaller patients who get weighed in the room on our pediatric scales, we put a small blanket or towel on the scale first. We also have warming mats that we place on the exam tables for our tiny breeds and cats to curl up on while they wait for the doctor.
We have started using pheromones in all of these areas as well as on ourselves and in our treatment rooms. Pheromone sprays mimic the scent that a mother puts out to her babies, resulting in a sense of calm and comfort. While this does not work for every patient, we have seen some pretty great results in a lot of them. The cat pheromone is called Feliway and the dog pheromone is called Adaptil. We spray the scales twice a day and we each spray ourselves twice a day. The cats cannot smell the dog pheromones and the dogs can’t smell the cats.
These are some of the things you will see us doing on the front lines, please let us know if you see a difference in how your pet feels the next time they come in for a visit. We are slowly implementing more and more ways to decrease stress for your pet every day, and we are just getting started. It is our goal to become an official stress-free, fear-free hospital as soon as certification becomes available. Did you know that the number one reason for not bringing your pet to the vet is stress? We know it is stressful for your pet, but we also know it is stressful for you. We want to make it a treat for your pet to come see us, their health depends on it. The sooner we make it less stressful for your pet, the more stress it will take off of you!
Your pets veterinary visit actually starts at home, click on the link below to see how you can help decrease this stress before it even starts.