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.
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?
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!
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!
Cats can sometimes seem like aliens from another planet! For those of us who share our homes with these strange creatures, it can seem impossible to understand them. They do however have some common, universal behaviours that can be decoded and I am here to help you decipher them!
Some of these signs include flicking of the tail, skin twitching, tongue flicking, and ear flattening. If she didn’t want to be petted anymore and just ran away, that would be a very clear sign that she was unhappy, but cats are usually much more cryptic. However, if she stuck around then that might mean she still wants contact, just in a different way.
Many cats have “no-touch” zones on their bodies and will react strongly if these are trespassed upon. For example, my cat loves to be scratched around his face and head, but hates to have his belly touched (this is a common “no-touch” area for cats). When cats groom each other, they tend to focus on the head and neck, so it makes sense these areas are where petting is more acceptable.
To better understand, or decode, your cat, I think we need to understand their basic needs. A primary need for cats is the need to hunt. You can help reduce stress in your cat’s life by instituting daily play sessions that mimic hunting.
There are many cat toys available to help with simulated hunting. I like the No Bowl feeding system, but there are many options out there. If your cat doesn’t play easily, don’t give up! Continue to try different toys, you can even get some great ideas for DIY cat toys on websites like Pinterest.
While cats may not be as easy to read as our canine companions, they make a lovely addition to most households. Understanding what they are feeling and thinking can go a long way to making sure that everyone is getting the most out of the relationship.
Dr. Juanita Ashton, BSc, DVM, ACDBC-IAABC is a certified Canine Behavioural Consultant, and one of the owners of the Elmsdale Animal Hospital