On many occasions I have seen dogs muzzled unnecessarily, animals restrained too harshly, tempers lost because the vet/nurse cannot find the vein, or the cat won’t sit still, or the dog is old and not comfortable maintaining a sitting position, or they have not been conditioned to this type of intervention and are plain terrified. I am sure that in the majority of cases a friendly, empathic team treat your pets as you would wish them to be treated, but when your dog is out back, how would you know? The dog who was as ‘good as gold’, was perhaps frozen in fear and the dog that had to be muzzled may have been being handled inappropriately or have been experiencing pain.
In 2017 Erika Csoltova et al, conducted research into this very issue. They investigated dog well-being during veterinary visits by comparing how dogs responded with and without their owners present and offering contact during examinations. They showed that owner-dog interactions improved the well-being of dogs during veterinary examinations and that they should be encouraged to reduce stress in an already stressful situation (Csoltova et al., 2017).
So next time your vet says ‘I’ll just pop him out the back’ make sure you know what goes on and do what you think is in the best interest of your dog.
As a nurse, I know from experience that less is always more, a hands off and force free approach will get you further and with much less hassle for everyone, than restraint and force. Yet this way of handling animals is often seen as time consuming and not conducive to ‘getting the job done’ and this saddens me about the profession where care should be the number one consideration.
So next time your vet says ‘I’ll just pop him out the back’ make sure you know what goes on and do what you think is in the best interest of your dog. If that means staying put, then so be it. If it means you accompany him or her out the back, then do so. I know that my dogs prefer to have me near, reassuring and talking them through procedures and ultimately less stress means better recoveries for them. Ask yourself what you would prefer if you were in their paws? You know them best and don’t be persuaded otherwise.
Reference.Csoltova, E., Martineau, M., Boissy, A., & Gilbert, C. (2017). Behavioral and physiological reactions in dogs to a veterinary examination: Owner-dog interactions improve canine well-being. Physiology & Behavior, 177, 270–281.