Is your pet a scaredy cat or a nervous pooch? At North Memorial Animal hospital we take great care to minimize as much stress as possible. We understand how important it is to work at the pet’s own pace and comfort zone. Many of our staff have fearful pets themselves and have real world experience in how to handle frightened or nervous pets. We do several specific things to work with both dogs and cats to make their visits as comfortable as possible.
- We offer towels sprayed with Feliway, a calming pheromone, to cover cat carriers in the waiting room and advise owners to not set carriers on the floor.
- Our staff and doctors always speak quietly and calmly in the exam rooms.
- If a cat is nervous about getting out of the carrier we will not drag them out of the door, but instead take the top off and gently cover with a towel and then pick up.
- Because cats are so sensitive to smells we have rooms we use only for cats, so no smelly dogs were just in them. In each of these rooms we use Feliway plug in diffusers to create a calming scent only cats can smell.
- Our staff are skillfully trained to use a variety of towel restraint techniques that are often less stressful than the typical veterinary holding methods.
- If cats need to be hospitalized for any length of time we give them boxes to use as hiding places while in the kennel. Cats feel safer when they are not exposed. We also have a cat only ward and a dog only ward so kitties are not stressed by having dogs near them.
- Always bring your cat in a carrier. They feel more comfortable when confined and it is the best way to get them here safely. The best carriers to get have a top opening lid and are big enough for the kitty to turn around but not to big that they feel lost in it. A big fluffy towel with the smells of home may also help.
- Get your cat used to the carrier so they don’t fear it. Keep it out in the open, let cats smell it and play around it. You can also feed your cat some meals inside the carrier by keeping the door open and placing food bowels inside.
- Tell us about any concerns you have about your cat’s visit. Would you feel more comfortable not waiting in the lobby? We can arrange for you to go directly to the exam room with no waiting.
What can owners do to help their dogs have a better visit?
First and foremost, please tell us if you think your dog is going to be fearful or nervous while here. This is best done on the phone when making the appointment so we can be prepared when you arrive. Some other things that might help are:
- Before your appointment it is best to not feed your dog before coming in. If they are hungry when at the hospital they will more readily take treats.
- If your dog is used to a gentle leader or easy walk harness they should be worn. These will provide the most control. Prong collars, shock collars, choke chains and flexi-leads should not be used.
- If you have a small dog it may feel more comfortable traveling in a carrier. Use the same techniques as cats to get them used to it.
- You are welcome to wait in the car with your dog if they don’t prefer to be around other pets or people. We can call or text you when the technician is ready to bring you to the exam room. We even have a side door that you can come in to avoid the waiting room.
What we will do to help ease your pet’s anxiety.
- All dogs that are nervous will be given a bandana with Adaptil on it. This is a pheromone spray that helps to calm dogs.
- We also have an Adaptil “plug in” for each exam room.
- Our exam rooms play soft music, often classical to help soften the noises of the hospital.
- When speaking with you and your pet our staff and doctors always use a calm, soft voice. We may speak directly to you, completely ignoring your dog, until they get used to us being in the room.
- We use a lot of treats! Our experience has shown us that using different and high value treats we can accomplish a lot. We will also use toys, tennis balls or squeak toys if they work better. We are not above bribery!
- If your dog is more comfortable being on the floor instead of the exam table we can do the exam or treatment on the floor instead.
- Our doctors usually start their exam from the rear of the dog. This gives them some time to get used to their touch before looking directly in their face, which is frightening to some pets.
- On our exam tables we use soft yoga mats to help larger pets get a better grip and to make the table less cold.
- We have thunder shirts both for sale and in house use. Some pets feel more secure wearing them. Check out their website for more info. http://www.thundershirt.com
- If your pet is frightened or anxious we highly recommend scheduling for “Happy Visits”. These are simply an appointment where your dog comes in and we give them praise and treats with no scary stuff. Depending on your dogs level of stress we may practice getting on the scale or exam table then play with some toys to make it a positive thing that your dog will start to look forward to.
- If your pet needs surgery we have another option besides the “cone of shame” to prevent your dog from licking. Cover Me offers a gentler alterative to the hard plastic cones.