Visits to the veterinary clinic can be more stressful for some pets than others. Your pet may be exhibiting signs of anxiety at the vet that you may not even be aware of. The staff at Animal Care of Gloucester is committed to ensuring that each pet is as stress free as possible at our clinic possible. We have implemented many fear free techniques to make each pets visit a happy one!
Common signs of stress in pets:
- Tail down or tucked
- Closeness to you or trying to climb up onto you
- Excessive panting
- Fidgeting (Circling, Barking, not being able to sit still)
- Whining, Growling, Snarling or Biting
- Hair Up (Piloerection)
- Hyper-vigilance (Looking around everywhere, seemingly paranoid.)
- Seeing the whites of the eyes.
- Dilated pupils
- Licking lips or lips drawn back
- Turning away from stimuli
- Avoiding veterinary staff members
Ways that we are working at Animal Care of Gloucester to make your pets visit fear free:
- When loading your pet into their appointment we may initially only address you and avoid eye contact with your pet. We approach them in a non-threatening manner. This gives your pet time to adjust to the room they are in at their pace.
- We use gentle petting and pressure to soothe your pet, occasionally using towels to help provide a more constant pressure.
- You may notice a diffuser plugged in, in your pet’s exam room with the name Adaptil or Feliway. These are pheromone diffusers that can help keep your pet calm.
- We also use pheromones on white Purrr-fect towels and bandannas around the hospital to help keep your pet calm.
- We use our exam rooms and separate areas around the hospital to actively reduce stressful noise.
- Some pets benefit from anti-anxiety medications before or during your appointment or other calming supplements.
- If your pet is showing excessive signs of fear, anxiety, or stress, we may work with you to reschedule your appointment until a time when your pet is calmer and more relaxed.
If your pet is exhibiting unwanted behaviors at home as well as when they visit the vet a behavior consult may be necessary. Behavior consults can be very rewarding for you and your pet and may produce noticeable results. They do however, require a lot of commitment and dedication. Dr. Betts does our behavior consults at Animal Care and he answered a few questions about them:
Question 1) When is a behavior consult indicated?
- Dr. Betts: “A behavior consult is indicated with any behavior that the owner thinks is concerning or dangerous to the pet, family or others. These behaviors may include aggression, anxiety, inappropriate behaviors (destructive, urinating or defecating in inappropriate places) inappropriate play (too rough, being mouthy, using their claws). Your veterinarian may also recommend a behavior consult.”
Question 2) What happens during a behavior consult at Animal Care of Gloucester?
- Dr. Betts: “It begins with an examination to rule out or identify medical causes. There may be diagnostic testing if needed, including blood work, x-rays or ultrasounds. The unwanted behaviors are then thoroughly reviewed with a discussion of relevant history of the behaviors. Finally, a plan for addressing the unwanted behaviors with the owner is laid out.”
Question 3) What is the goal for a behavior consult?
- Dr. Betts: “To lessen or eliminate the problem; to help owners better understand care for their pets emotional, social, and behavioral needs. Most importantly the goal is to strengthen the human-animal bond.
Question 4) How do you make behavior consults fear free?
- Dr. Betts: “We adjust the interactions based on the pet: using positive reinforcements like treats, pheromone products, minimizing noises, going slowly if the pet needs.
Question 5) Do you have any other comments for owners struggling with unwanted behaviors that may be considering a behavior consult?
- Dr. Betts: ” The earlier, the better. The sooner we address an unwanted behavior that your pet is exhibiting the more likely we are able to improve the behavior.”
In order for the fear free tactics that we are embracing at Animal Care of Gloucester to most effective we also need your help. Ways that you can help make your visit fear free for your pet include:
- Prep your pet by making the trip in a happy one. Positively accustom your pet to their carrier and condition happy experiences in the car. Pheromone products make the carrier and car ride a more pleasant experience for your pet.
- Limit food before appointments (unless medically indicated). This increases the value of treats to your pet while they are here.
- Exploring waiting room alternatives. Work with us to help us find the best place for your pet to receive care, that may be outside or in an exam room.
At Animal Care of Gloucester, we work hard to ensure the best care for your pets and we are proud to introduce fear free measures to look after your pets physical and emotional well-being. If you would like to discuss our fear free tactics, schedule an exam or a behavior consult please call us today at 804-642-5740.