Asha says you should read Ask the Vet with Dr. Juanita. (Healey photo)

The Importance of Positive Vet Visits

ELMSDALE: Coming to the vet can be so stressful for some pets! Over the years, we have been perfecting our knowledge and skills in low stress handling here at the Elmsdale Animal Hospital to help our furry friends feel more relaxed and comfortable at the vet. Improving experiences at the vet hospital for our patients and clients is our priority.

While we think of a routine trip to our own doctor as a chore; inconvenient but otherwise pretty low stress, our pets can see trips to the vet in a very different way. 

Picture this first scenario: Leo the cat wakes from a peaceful night’s sleep and goes to get some breakfast after a few stretches. Then out of nowhere, BAM!!!
Someone scoops him up and shoves him into a small dark cage. He is then put into a moving car and whisked away to an unknown location. He calls for help but no one seems to notice. Leo is so scared; he urinates and defecates all over himself.  Then he arrives at his destination only to be dumped out of his cage and plunked down on a cold, slippery table. 

He has no idea where he is. The room is very bright and the smells like fear. The sounds are also terrifying. One pup is crying a lonely cry after waking up from surgery, another barking out of fear at the people in the waiting room.  One cat who is getting her blood drawn is crying and hissing so loud everyone in the building can hear.

So now, Leo’s worst fears have come true: he is at the vet! Can you just imagine how Leo is going to behave? He feels like he has to fight for his life! And will he be better or worse the next time he has to see the vet if things add to his fear like needles or handling in a way that does not make sense to a cat?

Scenario number 2: Freya is a 3-year-old husky with diarrhea from getting into the garbage. She has been up all night with cramps in her belly, frequently straining to have a bowel movement. First thing in the morning, Freya’s mom is on the phone with the vet scheduling an appointment.

When they arrive, Freya is a bit nervous and reserved at the vet’s office, from being weighed on the scale to the exam room. She doesn’t feel well, so her anxiety will be heightened at the visit today. She may even show aggression as a result of fear during the vet visit or later that day at home.

With increased stress hormones, things can happen without much provocation. Is she going to be better or worse the next time at the vet?

So why are positive visits so important? Obviously, your pets comfort is top priority; no one wants to see their fur baby scared and acting out. There are however many other benefits to Positive Vet Visits! Limiting stress while at the vet clinic is becoming the standard of practicing veterinarians today.

Dr. Sophia Yin, a pioneer of the low stress movement among vet professionals, stated that “Low Stress Handling leads to safer and more satisfied staff, efficient workplaces, lowered liability, loyal clients, and of course, happy animals.” As you can see, it makes better sense for all involved to keep things as calm and stress-free as possible!

In fact, there are several different certifications veterinary staff can get: Low Stress Handling and Fear Free Certification being two of the most popular.
Dr. Marty Becker of Chicken Soup for the Soul started the Fear Free movement among animal professionals. Both of these movements are designed to have pets more comfortable with visiting the vet or any animal facility.  Having your pet less stressed while at the veterinarian can also be beneficial at home.
There are studies suggesting that stressful events, such as fearful vet visits, will increase the chances a pet will show aggression and have behaviour problems at home. Therefore, reducing your pet’s stress while at our clinic needs to be a priority for you as well as for us!  
A big reason why many cats and dogs do not get health check ups and routine vet care is because pet owners do not want their furry friend enduring the stress of travelling and the hospital visit. But did you know there are things you can do at home, and that we are doing daily, to make the vet visits more relaxed and positive for your pet?