We switched to a new veterinarian last year. We made the change on a good friend’s recommendation and could not be happier. Our new vet is thorough, compassionate, smart as a whip, and an outstanding diagnostician. Her staff members are also competent and welcoming. An additional virtue of this clinic (All About Animals, in Mahomet, IL) is the topic of this essay. Dr. Koss’s standard policy is that owners remain with their dogs and cats for physical examinations and for all health care procedures that good veterinary practice allows.
Here is an example.
Last summer, Cooper (aka Coopa Doopa Doo) developed an ear hematoma.
I was away, so Mike took him into the clinic. After examination, Dr. Koss recommended a relatively new approach to hematoma treatment in which the site is drained with a large gauge needle and an anti-inflammatory agent is directly injected into the remaining pocket. It is out-patient, does not require anesthesia, and is less invasive than traditional treatment protocols. Because it is a sterile procedure, Cooper would need to be treated in the clinic’s pre-surgery room. Dr. Koss told Mike, who was holding and talking to Coop during the examination, that the room has a large observation window and so Mike could watch as Cooper was being treated, if he so desired.
Mike did so desire. As Coop looked back at him through the window (wagging his tail the entire time), Mike witnessed both the procedure and the gentle way in which Cooper was handled and spoken to throughout treatment. After the procedure, Caleb, the veterinary technician and Cooper’s new best friend, brought Cooper back out to Mike, and they were good to go. Throughout the entire examination and treatment, Cooper was either with Mike (for weighing, examination and diagnosis) or Mike could see him through the window (during treatment).
Standard Operating Procedure? As many dog folks know, this level of clinic transparency and owner involvement is no longer standard practice at many veterinary clinics. It is quite common today for clinics to require that owners relinquish their dog to a staff person while still in the waiting room. All physical examinations, vaccinations and treatments are then conducted out of sight of the owner in a treatment room and the dog is returned to the owner at the end of the appointment.
Disclaimer: I am going to be blunt. I have a strong opinion about this. There is not a snow ball’s chance that I would allow any of my dogs to be taken “into the back” at a veterinary clinic for anything, short of surgery. Our new vet does go up and above with her clinic’s degree of owner involvement, but we have never been clients at a clinic that required our dogs to be taken away from us for examinations. Just as I assume that parents would not accept such a policy from their child’s pediatrician, I think it is not even remotely acceptable to expect owners to not be present during their pet’s veterinary examinations. Yet, this is not only standard protocol in many clinics today, but a requirement of some for acceptance as a client.
Yeah, not going to happen. I am my dogs’ advocate as well as their source of comfort and security. Our dogs trust us to have their backs and at no time is this more important than when they are nervous or frightened, a common state of mind of many dogs during veterinary visits.
Until recently, this has only been my opinion. However, a new study, conducted at the National Veterinary School of Alfort in France, examined whether a dog’s stress level during a veterinary examination was influenced by having their owner present and providing comfort (1).
The Study: A group of 33 healthy dogs and their owners were enrolled. The dogs were at least 6 months of age and all had previous experience at a veterinary clinic. The objectives of the study were to measure dogs’ physiological and behavioral responses to a standard veterinary examination and to determine if having the owner present and providing comfort reduced the dog’s level of stress. Heart rate, rectal temperature, ocular (eye) surface temperature, salivary cortisol, and stress-related behaviors were recorded before, during and after a physical examination conducted in a clinic setting. Two conditions were studied: (1) Contact; the owner stood next to the examination table at the dog’s side and comforted the dog by talking to him/her quietly and using gentle petting; (2) Non-contact; the owner was in the room, but did not interact with the dog and sat quietly in a chair located ~ 10 feet away from the examination table. A balanced, cross-over design was used. This means that each dog was subjected to both conditions and experienced two visits (timed 1 to 2 weeks apart). To control for an order effect, the sequence of the conditions varied and was randomly assigned. Examinations lasted approximately 5 minutes and included mild restraint, examination of the dog’s eyes, ears, mouth and teeth, palpation of the lymph nodes and abdomen, manipulation of joints, and heart and lung examination with a stethoscope.
Results: Unsurprisingly, veterinary visits are stressful to dogs:
- Waiting room stress: All of the dogs experienced at least a low-level of stress during the pre-examination period, in the waiting room. As they waited, many of the dogs showed frequent yawning, which is considered to be a displacement behavior during periods of emotional conflict. Some of the dogs also whined and vocalized.
- Examination stress: The researchers found that all of the dogs, regardless of whether or not their owner was comforting them, showed a measurable stress response during the veterinary examination. Heart rate, ocular temperature, and lip licking all increased during the examination period.
- Owner being there: However, when owners stood close to their dogs and provided comfort by talking to and petting, the dogs’ heart rates and ocular temperatures decreased when compared with the condition in which owners were not interacting with their dogs. Both of these changes are associated with a decrease in stress. Dogs also attempted to jump off of the examining table less frequently when their owner was comforting them compared with when the owner was not providing comfort.
The authors conclude: “The well-being of dogs during veterinary visits may be improved by affiliative owner-dog interactions”.
I know, these results are a no-brainer for many dog folks.
Veterinary visits are stressful to dogs and being present to comfort and reassure our dogs reduces their fear and stress. Unfortunately, in my view, this study did not go far enough, since it did not study the condition that I am most interested in learning about – when dogs are taken away from their owners and examined out of the owner’s presence. Interestingly, the argument that is made to support this practice at the clinics that insist upon it is that they remove dogs from their owners because the presence of the owner can cause the dog to be more stressed, not less so. Well, at the very least, these results provide evidence against that excuse.
And, an excuse it truly is. Perhaps this sounds harsh, (but remember, I am standing on a soap box…..that is what it is for), but my belief is that these policies are in place more for the convenience of the clinic than for the benefit of the dogs. Reducing client interactions in an examination room no doubt is more expedient and efficient (for the clinic). And, there is also that pesky issue of transparency. An owner who does not have the opportunity to witness how their dog is handled, spoken to, examined or treated cannot question or criticize. There is really no other way to say this – the risk of owner displeasure and complaints is reduced by not having owners present while dogs are being examined and treated.
So, personally, I am happy to see these results, as they can be used as evidence when responding to a clinic that insists it is less stressful for dogs to be removed from their owner during examinations and routine procedures. Petting and talking to our dogs when they are upset during a veterinary visit reduces their stress. We have the data. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but these results also provide more ammunition to combat the still-present [and false] belief that calming a fearful dog “reinforces fear“. I address that particular issue in more depth in “Dog Smart“).
Hopefully, we will see a follow-up study that examines dogs’ responses to “no owner present” policies. Regardless, the data that we currently have encourage us to stay with our dogs during veterinary visits and examinations. It is quite simple really.
Just Be There. Insist upon it.
Study Reference: Csoltova E, Martineau M, Boissy A, Gilbert C. Behavioral and physiological reactions in dogs to a veterinary examination: Owner-dog interactions improve canine well-being. Physiology & Behavior 2017; 177:270-281.
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41 thoughts on “Be There.”
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Thank you for this insightful post! I find this especially interesting in the age of pandemic. I’m a first-time dog owner, and our first meeting with a veterinarian was completely over the phone. Our dog’s first vet visit was roughly a month ago, and we, as his parents, were not allowed to enter the building. A vet tech came out, picked up my terrier mutt, and we didn’t see him until the examination was complete. We then went over the results of his examination with his vet completely over the phone.
Do you have any insight on whether this practice is still commonplace, given the pandemic-changed landscape? For what it’s worth, I live in Texas where most things are (for better or for worse) open.
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Dear mrs. Case, hi Linda,
This is a very helpful article. So many recognizable situations and cases.
I’m a vet technician studying dog behavior at this very moment.
For my education and personal interest I would like to go a bit deeper into this subject. Therefore I would like to read the whole article/publication you are referring to (Csoltova E, Martineau M, Boissy A, Gilbert C. Behavioral and physiological reactions in dogs to a veterinary examination: Owner-dog interactions improve canine well-being. Physiology & Behavior 2017; 177:270-281).
The only thing I can find is an abstract.
Can you help me with the purchase of the complete article? I would appreciate it very much.
Audrey, take the conplete citation to your library. Most libraries will do an ILL request for articles from journals they do not own. In the USA this is free or low cost.
Thanks! Will do.
This is an excellent post. As with many aspects with our dogs, I would say “it depends”. I worked at a veterinary clinic for 2 years and some dogs are more excited and upset with their owners there. My own dog has had issues about having his paws handled which makes blood draws a problem. I have to monitor my own behavior when I take him. The one day I was running late, and worrying about him, he did worse. I have to be loose and happy and “it’s all good” with him and he does quite well. I feed him lots of treats and I have no apology for that. My current veterinarian and her staff are wonderful with him.
I had a vet specialist take my special needs dog “to the back” after we had made a very specific agreement about how things would go down and an understanding that my bringing him there was contingent upon following that agreement. The dog would be brought back to me in the exam room on the rolling table before being brought out of sedation so that he would not have to be handled by strangers and panic (part of his special needs issues). Yet once the dog was in the back and under sedation, that vet came to me and declared that she had changed her mind and would not bring my dog back to me in the exam room until after bringing him out of sedation. That would mean, furthermore, being greeted by and handled by only strangers. The techs picked him up and carried him back to the exam room, screaming all the way, after waking him up. As you say, the excuse given was that he would be “safer” and less “panicky” that way.
Yes, this article times 100! If I wouldn’t let you take my toddler age human out of my sight for treatment I am certainly not going to allow you to do so with my pet.
I am also not a fan of dropping my dog off the night before for surgery the next day (unless we are talking some emergency issue that requires overnight monitoring). I’m perfectly capable of withholding food and water if that is the concern. I’m also capable of having my dog there at 6am or whatever time you want to start surgery. I feel like this is often for the convenience of the vet. My dog is not going to spend overnight stressed and afraid for anyone’s “convenience”.
Our old vet retired, and his son and daughter have taken over the practice. I may be voting with my feet very soon as clearly the son (while I feel he is more than competent at the actual being a doctor part) does not like being questioned in any way. My senior female pit needed an minor surgery not long ago and he (the son) got very snippy when I had questions about the facilities where my girl would be staying for the day. She’s 15, has severe arthritis and often has trouble getting up and down so yes… I am going to ask you about how you plan on keeping her comfortable in your hard-floored kennels while she is with you! I’m also going to ask that someone take her out OFTEN to go potty as she may get “stuck” and need help getting up so she doesn’t have to soil herself (which would offend her in ways beyond counting).
So far, I’ve managed the situation by making all our appointments on days when the daughter is in the office. She is much more client friendly and compassionate. Long term I’m not sure that’s a workable solution. At some point there is going to be the inevitable emergency when the son is the only one in the office. The fact we already have to drive an hour each way for a vet makes me reluctant to go on the hunt for a replacement but in the end I am feeling like I will have no alternative.
I have worked in the veterinary field for 23 years as an assistant. During these years, I have taken it upon myself to learn dog behavior, body language and low stress handling. I have attended numerous veterinary sponsored meetings and seminars; I am currently Silver certified in Low Stress handling from (the late) Dr. Sophia Yin’s program and looking forward to the next certification programs. I’m not against owners being with their pets… IF it helps the pet. There are many circumstances where the pet does better WITHOUT the owner present- for example if the pet (usually a dog fits this circumstance) is fearful and will exhibit fear aggressive behaviors while with the owners, but will not when taken away from them. (The reasons can be explained in another conversation) I believe that if we want to get to the point of having owners present as standard to any procedures done, then I feel it is imperative that ALL those working in the veterinary field learn the EXTREMELY valuable assets of behavior, language and safe/low stress handling. This is not taught, or not taught enough, in the veterinary and technician programs. I am stunned by the lack of knowledge from new technicians!! From veterinarians, it’s becoming slightly better. Overall, I have never understood why the education of behavior hasn’t been as important as the education of the physical. We are not working on inanimate objects, but living, breathing, sentient beings who can read us like a book- but there are those who still have to ask (and I find this terribly annoying) “is the dog/cat nice?” before they approach. My comments are pretty much a plea for those working in this field to learn “dog/cat”!! I feel that if this becomes more seriously addressed, then we, the veterinarians and all staff, can provide much better care for our patients and their families and be able to allow more interaction while treating. (I know there are always exceptions to the rule, this is just a general commentary)
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Hi Michele, Thanks for your comment. I am glad to hear that you have taken CEU training in behavior and stress management. While I agree that veterinary colleges may not teach enough behavior and training to veterinary students (at most universities, these courses are still optional and are not part of the core curriculum), I disagree that things are as dire as you imply in your comments. I taught canine/feline behavior and training to animal sciences undergraduates for 20 years, many of whom went on to become veterinarians. I then taught behavior and training to 2nd and 3rd year veterinary students here at the University of IL for 5 years. I met then, and know now, many practicing veterinarians who not only take it upon themselves to learn more about behavior, but who are also training their staff and in some cases, enrolling in certification programs. Many of the veterinarians who I worked with as students and now know well are gentle and compassionate and have a deep understanding of stress and fear-related behaviors in dogs and cats. Sure, more is always needed. But I think it is incorrect to state that a “plea” is needed to veterinarians and staff, because many are just as dedicated as you state that you are to pet well-being, stress-reduction and care. There are also many who not only understand stress behavior in animals but also allow and encourage their clients to stay with their pets during examinations.
I also do not agree with you that having well-trained staff is needed to allow owners to be present with their dog. I actually do not even understand your logic in that argument, because if staff are NOT trained well (as you imply), then it is even more important that the owner is present to act as his/her dog’s advocate. If, on the other hand, they are trained well, then they should be able to help the owner to be involved at a level that is appropriate and helpful in reducing the dog’s stress level. Simply put, having staff who are not as well trained as you seem to deem necessary is not a valid argument for removing the dog from the owner, nor should being well-trained be the criterion that is used for allowing the owner’s presence. And, of course, we have data showing us that owner presence reduces stress.
You also state that “There are many circumstances where the pet does better WITHOUT the owner present.” There are actually no data that support this belief and we do have evidence that mitigates against it. In addition to the study that I review in this essay, there is additional work showing that dogs perceive and react to the presence of their owner as their “secure base” and prefer to be close to and obtain comfort from their owner (not from a stranger) when in a stressful situation. If you do understand behavior, as you state, you should also know that a dog who is demonstrating fear-related aggression may very well stop showing these behaviors when removed from the owner because they are now MORE stressed and fearful, not less so, and simply freeze or shut down. Regardless, the belief that removing the dog from the owner is the decision of the staff alone, without involving the owner’s desires or considering that, well, you could be wrong in your assessment and could cause more harm than good to the dog, is at the very least patronizing to the owner, and even worse, can cause much more stress to an already upset dog.
Finally, I find nothing at all wrong with someone asking “Is your dog nice?”. It is just another way of asking if they can pet or talk to your dog and should be appreciated not derided. It is simply good manners and is also being considerate of an owner and respectful of the dog. Not all dogs exhibit clear signals when approached and asking first should always be part of interacting with someone else’s dog, regardless of who you are or how much you know about behavior. Linda Case
I’m a vet, and I work at an emergency clinic. In most emergency settings, the pet is taken to the back in the name of efficiency: if there is something seriously wrong with your pet, we need to know about it pronto, even before we have a chance to speak with you. At our clinic, if the triage nurse is worried, she will whip your dog to the back and a team of 3-4 people descend, taking heart rate, blood pressure, emergency blood tests, baseline ECG, start an IV, provide oxygen etc. The vet’s full attention is on making sure your dog is stable enough and all immediately life-threatening problems have been dealt with. Then we can take a breath and come speak with you. You would be welcome to come back, but initially, there literally is almost no room for you around that space, the action is a bit overwhelming and we don’t yet know enough to answer your questions. If your pet is more stable, you are definitely part of the initial exam. I too, would be leery of any place that totally forbade an owner from being present for most procedures, unless it was about needing an anesthesia or surgery.
Also, vets are liable for any injury an owner may get from his/her own animal while at the vet hospital. As a result, many are reluctant to allow the owner to restrain their own pet. Good pet owners are amazing and so helpful, but many people are a bit clueless about the potential of their dog to react or bite in that stressful setting and put themselves or the vet in danger. Hope that perspective is somewhat helpful.
The practice where I worked for 9 years with full family presence was a 24/7 emergency and general practice. We ALWAYS brought the owner back with us to the triage or treatment area if there was a concern. This definitely helped speed up history gathering and treatment, without the risk of playing “telephone” between a CSR or a tech or an assistant and the team caring for the pet.
If practices want to do this well, they do need to consider physical space. We were lucky enough to move into a new facility and could plan our treatment areas with plenty of room for multiple owners present with multiple pets, but even in our 40 year old facility we were able to make it work.
As for liability for injury, owners are much more likely to be injured in the lobby, where there is little to no staff supervision in terms of what owners are doing and how they and their pets are interacting with others. In my experience, the practice that encouraged full family presence did not have any more liability/injury claims than any other practice – in fact, they had FEWER. Additionally, there were very few complaints about necessity or cost of services because they witnessed firsthand what went in to providing care for their pet.
In that practice, we would not allow owners to restrain their own pets. And we used good communication to ensure they knew what we were doing at all times, when and where they could touch their pet during procedures (nail trims, blood draws, IVC placement, CPR) to ensure their safety. In my 9 years at that practice, I had one owner get bitten by his cat during a blood draw after I specifically told him to keep his fingers away from his cat’s face. When he was bitten, we provided first-aid and the first thing he said was, “I don’t know why I didn’t listen to you – you told me not to put my fingers there.”
I’m glad that you encourage family presence when you can in your facility – it is so important and goes a long way to building trust, especially in the emergency environment where you may have never seen the client or pet before. I would love it if you tried even more family presence – I think you’ll be surprised by the results.
Liz Hughston, MEd., RVT, CVT, VTS (SAIM, ECC)
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Hi Liz, thanks for your comments and sharing your experience. When we can accommodate space-wise we do bring owners back, or get them back as soon as possible. Our facility was not designed for this at all, however, and it is a problem. Our vets differ. I, for one, find it valuable to focus on the patient, and collect my thoughts in one place after I have some more information on the physical exam, vitals and quick assessment tests before I blurt out half-formed thoughts to the owner. When owners are there hanging on your every word, it is sometimes tricky to manage that situation. Others are better at that multi-tasking! Dawn Crandell (DVM, DVSC, DACVECC, CTC)
Some vet clinics take the pets into the back so the newer vet tech’s can get the practice without the owners seeing their blunders. I’ve seen new tech’s jab, jab, jab and jab again trying to get a blood draw before an experienced tech will take over to once again jab the poor dog.
I won’t stand for my dog to be practiced on nor am I paying for that.
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Hi Jil. Ugh. (Not very articulate, I know, but that is all that I can say in response to this).
We always did training like that with the full consent of the owner, and in front of the owner. I would never allow someone to practice a skill on a patient without the owner’s consent.
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Exactly. Yes, training needs to be done – with owner consent and usually with them witnessing. And they get one shot per animal…
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Last year, at a holistic vet, they wanted to take my dog to the back to draw blood. I refused. The tech who came out was not very competent and had to stick him multiple times to find the vein. Blood dripped down his chest onto the floor. I guess that was why they wanted to take him to the back, so I wouldn’t see that. Oddly, it didn’t seem to bother my dog at all.
I think there actually are a few cases where separation is better, but that some vets have tried making that into a policy. I’ve taken a few dogs to the vet where their owners knew they’d become too nervous & they wanted somebody their dog knows to stay with them in case they needed to step outside during the treatment. So I think there should always be a choice here.
On a related topic, I used to get some odd looks at a vet clinic when I’d bring in a foster dog for only a brief visit, maybe just getting weighed. In my opinion, a few such visits together with playing at physical exams are at least as helpful as having the owner there during the visit.
However, I’ve never heard of any local vet suggesting this, and even with very scared dogs they only bring up medication. My local clinic has a half-dozen vets, and a default policy of separation unless you insist.
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Hi Gerry, This may be true, and the issue is that such a decision should always involve the owner and the vet (with the owner’s understanding of his/her dog being given great consideration), and as you state, should certainly not be set policy. Wonderful that you would take you fosters in for just a brief (and positive) visit! Such a great thing to do!
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I have suggested that owners bring dogs in for “happy, get weighed, get petted, get a treat” visits for 25 years. I have had owners come in with scared dogs weekly for a “sit in the exam room while the owner and I chat and ignore the dog” visits until the dog was comfortable enough to allow examination without fear – and have been doing that for that length of time, too.
My colleagues who do not allow the animals to work through fear and make their hospitals a happy place don’t have any idea what they are missing. Most of my patients are happy to come in to see me, and that is how I want it.
And although I have a few owners who don’t want to witness what I am doing, I never require that. I don’t comprehend that as a policy.
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Thank you so much for this article, and for the link to the study! I lecture on this topic at veterinary conferences and it is disheartening to me how many veterinary professionals are opposed to the idea of family presence when treating furry/feathered/scaly family members. I have nothing to hide – in fact I am proud of the way I handle and interact with animals under my care, and I’m proud of my skills. I love having owners present! I also think it gives them a really good idea of the value of the services they are paying for.
Hi Liz – Well, thank YOU! I was thrilled to read your comment and learn that you speak about this topic at vet conferences. I too find it disheartening to learn that you see many practitioners who do not allow family presence during examinations and routine treatments. (My opinion is that pet parents should vote with their feet. If many refused to go to clinics with this type of policy, we would see changes, I am sure). Like you, our vet is, and should be, very proud of her clinic’s approach to handling and client/patient support. She takes the time and makes the effort to train all of her staff well and it shows in their treatment of both their animal patients and human clients. We need more vets like you and like her! Thanks for all that you are doing for animals and their people. I hope we are at the same conference sometime as I would love to hear you speak! Linda
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I have a lecture on this topic coming up at the Keystone Veterinary Conference in August in Hershey, PA 🙂
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More and more animal hospitals are getting “Fear Free” certified. Our clinic is working on this. I’ve been a vet tech since 1975 and I do all my procedures in the room with the owner. It is obvious the pets are happier and so are the owners! There are a few dogs that do better without the owner present and there are a few owners that opt NOT to be in the exam room for blood draws etc.
For anyone looking for a new veterinarian….look for one that is Fear Free certified! You appointment might take longer but it will be less stressful for all involved!
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I worked at a vet where it is common practice for pets to be removed from exam room for blood draws, and one of the technicians is VERY rough in how she handles pets, and the clinic is not really set up so clients can’t hear what is going on…and she is not quiet. She is NOT a certified technician, nor is she good with people or animals. I’m honestly not sure why she still works there, but I am glad I do not, and will never refer anyone there. While it was very a convenient commute, the stress level because of that co-worker was not worth it.
Hi Martha. Ugh. This is awful. I am glad to hear that you protested such poor treatment with your feet. While this is certainly the worst case scenario of the “take them in back” situation, it does illustrate the risk of not being with our dogs as their security and advocates.
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It is certainly not the norm for owners to be excluded from examinations in the UK, either – in fact, the sharing of history and information is an essential part of the process, I would think. But having seen how Sophy reacted to my suppressed panic when I thought she was going into anaphylactic shock (she wasn’t), and her immediate recovery in the arms of a calm, knowledgeable vet nurse, I have some sympathy with keeping anxious owners away from blood tests and similar procedures. But I can’t imagine being banned from the examination room – I don’t think a vet implementing that policy would find many patients here!
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Exactly, FJM. The issue is not about the nuances of whether or not a given owner wishes to be present (or if it is better for a particular dog that the owner is not present), but rather about enforcing owner absence as a policy (and how this has been justified to owners). So glad your Sophy is okay! Thanks for reading and for commenting.
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OMG I love this!! Our dog is terrified at the vets (not exaggerating, really terrified).Our current vet is wonderful about letting us stay with her during procedures, but a trip to the ER vet was a nightmare- they took her to the back for a blood test,a muzzle and three techs to physically restrain her made a bout of pancreatitis infinately worse. This is a well behaved, obedient dog who just has veterinarian issues, so being able to keep thing calm and collected with us in the room, and one of us doing the minimal restraint required is a must for us. Thank you for providing the citation: I am printing it now!
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Hi Petra, Interestingly, comments here and on social media about this blog essay suggest that the “take the dog in the back” issue is most common with emergency clinics. I am so sorry that this happened to your girl at that type of clinic, but am also happy that you have such a wonderful veterinarian. We are all so thankful for them! Thanks for your comment and for reading!
Hi Linda! I am not savvy about this form of communication, but wanted to let you know I agree with your premise with some reservation. Just as there are some parents who do not handle witnessing medical procedures on their kids, there are clients who have similar reactions with their pets. So I would advocate that my profession gives clients the option of staying with the pet or leaving him/her with clinic staff. But certainly there are very few situations where separation would be best for all. Hope all is well with you. I always enjoy reading your posts! Leighann
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Hi Leighann, So nice to hear from you! I hope all is well with you and your dogs! Actually, I think this is apples and oranges. The issue is not whether an owner desires to stay with his/her pet and that some may choose to not be present (which of course, is an individual’s choice). Rather, at issue is the situation in which a veterinary clinic requires that dogs are taken away from their owners and are examined without the owner present. There are clinics that require this and attempt to justify it by stating (without evidence) that dogs are less stressed when away from their owners. My point, (aside from my opinion about this practice), was that we now have some evidence that this is not true and that in fact, an owner’s presence may attenuate a dog’s stress during an exam. So, clearly, we need to agree to agree on this! 🙂 🙂 Again – so nice to hear from you – it has been a while!
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I rarely allow my animals to be taken in the back without me. If the vet doesn’t want me in the back treatment area (there can be legitimate reasons for this) then I request they do everything possible in the exam room with me present. I bring my dog’s own muzzle, that they are conditioned to wear, and have even been able to convince a technician to do a blood draw with my dog (muzzled) unrestrained and me feeding spray cheese and gently tilting her head up- it worked perfect with very little stress . I have to say, I would never go to a vet that would not allow me to be present during an exam.
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Thanks for the comment, Tonna. Definitely agree!
Wow – I read this with interest. We are in Australia, so I wonder if this is a matter of cultural difference. We’ve been to lost of vets in Oz, and we’ve never had anyone suggest examining a dog while we were not present. In fact, here, a lot of minor procedures are done in the consolation room with all parties present (taking ear swabs, checking lumps, taking cells from a lump with a needle, looking for something imbedded in a foot etc). Usually it’s only if some kind of sedation is required for a more invasive procedure, that dogs are taken out the back. Even specialists like dog ophthalmologists usually keep everyone together doing procedures like testing for corneal damage etc. I find the idea of taking dogs away even for examination appalling!
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Hi Kristy, The practice of requiring that the dog is taken away while the owner waits in the reception area seems to be a rather new phenomenon here in the US, and certainly not all veterinary clinics require this. I first learned of this practice when I was still teaching at the university. Both vet students and undergrads who worked with veterinarians were reporting this as standard practice at some clinics – and as a requirement. Most were working with vets in the Chicagoland area, so it could be a regional thing. I completely agree that owners can easily stay for many minor procedures (and most vets allow this), and certainly should be there for all routine examinations, vaccinations, etc.
Its been more than 20 years since the vet clinic I went to THEN started taking my dogs and cats away from me for everything. I switched. My dog became very frightened at the vets from then on. Since then, every vet clinic has done this unless I ask that they not do it. I don’t know of any that don’t. Its appalling.
Ours is the same way on small things. Except for expressing anal glands. They take the dogs back to do that.