When pets come to the veterinarian they are often very anxious. Thankfully most of our patients are very well behaved. Pets show anxiety by being very excitable. Watch the size of the pupils (black part of the eye) of your pet at home. The pupil will be about one quarter to a half the size on the eye. When at the vet you may notice that the pupil is very large (dilated). This means your pet is in an aroused (excited) state. When they are like this their behaviour can be unpredictable and even uncontrollable by the owner – this is because they forget their training.
Remember that dogs and cats are not people – they will never think like us. We live in their world. – they do not live in our world. It is possible for us to think like a dog or cat but impossible for a dog or cat to think like a person so it is unfair of us to expect them to behave as humans would in a similar situation
The objective in the veterinary clinic is to do a full examination and do what needs to be done. Then they can go home which is exactly where they want to be.
To Do At Home
Caveat: This should only be done with pets that are gentle. If your pet growls, snaps or hisses, if your cat wags it’s tail DO NOT DO THESE home exercises. See a behaviourist or see you veterinarian.
For gentle animals: On a regular basis at home, work with your pet doing all the things your veterinarian does during the exam – handle the ears, look in the eyes, check the teeth, play with the paws. When you do these things your pet is not surprised and upset when the veterinarian does it. Many of these procedures are seen by some animals as dominant and some animals that are dominant will be very offended or even challenged by what you are doing and react negatively to you …. so be very careful. An certified animal trainer can help you.
Socializing animals with people and other animals is also very helpful to them. Dogs can go to obedience classes and gain confidence.
Muzzles and Blankets
Please do not be offended if the veterinarian or veterinary staff suggest using a muzzle on your dog or bundling your cat in a blanket. These measures are suggested if the staff are picking up signals from the pet that it is upset. We work with animals all the time and even if owners tell us that their pet will never bite we have seen this happen many times and so we are watching the pet’s body language carefully.
When dogs are fearful they may bite the veterinarian or even their owner. The same can happen with cats. People are really shocked when this happens as they have never seen the pet in a stressful situation. However it is just the situation and not the people involved. We have some dogs that we blindfold them and talk to their owners in signs language. For these patients the sight of the vet is scarey and when they cannot see her/him they are more relaxed and the vet can then do the job. When all else fails we have one of two options – sedation or not doing anything. Getting hurt (human or pet) is not an option. We must keep patients, their owners and all staff members and the doctor safe.
Prior to the office visit you can ask Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic if there is something you can give your pet to calm them down. Not all of these products work in all pets but they may help. We have had very positive feed back on some of these products – Calm Diet from MediCal, Zylkene, Feliway are some of the products we use.
Leashes, Cages, Pillow Cases
When bringing dogs into Little Mountain Veterinary Clinic make sure she/he is always kept on a leash. PLEASE do not take them off the leash in the reception room even if no animals are there. Should a client come in the door your pet may run out the dog and may get hurt on the road. As some animals are so aroused in a clinic setting they may react to other patients in the clinic negatively. We cannot take the risk of anyone getting hurt. Cats should be in a carrier. In situations where a client does not have a carrier (always the best option) a pillow case will often work well. When cats cannot see others they are calmer. However remember the pillow case must be closed in a secure way. Many people bring their cat in a cardboard box – with the lid securely shut. It is not safe to carry your cat into the clinic in your arms – some cats will get very agitated when they see strange surroundings, animals and people and smell new smells and hear new sounds. These can cause them to hurt their owners unintentionally because they are so anxious. Also cats, when not confined may be so scared coming out of the clinic that they jump out of the owners arms and run away. This is rare but it can happen.
Much as we love them cats and dogs are animals. We must think for them for all to be safe.