Please, Please, For the Love Of God Keep Your Pet on a Leash or in a Carrier Until We Tell You
While this post has been coming for a while chasing a dog around the clinic for five minutes yesterday because the owner came in and immediately took off his leash prompted me to do it now. Running around and trying to grab him when everyone else was in the exam room waiting was not fun.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of holding a cat who came without a carrier for over 15 minutes while her owner settled up the bill and got redressed in his outerwear to leave. She was sweet, but all of two minutes in the large, open lobby completely exposed to people coming in and out of the room randomly and strange sounds had her on edge and trying to get away to find cover. I smiled and waited politely as she left a series of scratches on my arms that are still healing.
Here’s the thing, it’s highly likely your pet, even if they are good and calm, is going to be uncomfortable in this “new” place with lots of people moving around and all kinds of unpredictable sights sounds and smells. Plus that front door opens a lot as other people come in and go out.
That leash is sometimes the ONLY way you have to control your pet in the clinic environment. And as for cats they almost always feel safer inside that carrier, both in the car and in the clinic. Which leads right into:
Just Because Your Pet is Friendly Doesn’t Mean Others Are
We have clients who have aggression issues. We have new clients who we know nothing at all about. We have sick and injured clients and when pets are in pain or feeling wrong they do sometimes act out or panic.
Personally my dog Astrid has fear aggression issues. If another dog approaches her calmly and friendly she’s perfectly find. But if they run up to her and immediately try a play jump she panics and her brain translates that as them being aggressive to her, not playful. I don’t know why she’s like that, but she is.
We try to get people into exam rooms or into the grooming area as quickly as possible so a bunch of pets aren’t all crammed into the waiting room at the same time. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
Besides, letting your dog jump at others is just rude (in doggy language).
Every Dog Needs Training
Even the good ones. Even the really good ones. We highly recommend some training, even if it’s just you reading a book or watching a video about it and trying it yourself. Dogs who get training are less likely to be rehomed, they’re more likely to be exposed to more environments which means they’re more likely to be calm in ours.
Furthermore it’s likely we’ll only ever see your pets when they are sick or injured. In that case being trained to let someone check their mouth, ears and handle their feet can make a huge difference, especially if we’re looking at a foot injury, and ear infection or an oral abscess. And these are not hard things to train your dog to do, just make it part of their daily routine to let your look at their teeth, hold their paws or look in their ears. Plus you’ll be able to see issues before they start limping or shaking their head or stop eating.
Then there’s kennel training, which I have heard some people say is cruel. Locking your dog in a kennel while you’re at work, or out of the house is not cruel. It is the safest thing for them. You know they won’t eat something bad, or tear things up, or get hurt. They’re safe. And if your dog knows that kennels are okay that it makes it easier for us when they come to us for boarding or hospitalization. It’s hard enough that they are without you, or have to be movement-restricted (because of an injury or IVs or what not) Being okay with being in a kennel is just one less thing to stress them out.
We Can’t Do it All Alone
We depend on you to give us clues to your pet’s health. Things like vomiting, diarrhea, not eating are things we don’t see, we need you to see them for us. We can do tests or make sense of the information your pet is giving us to make a diagnosis and treat.
Furthermore we need you to make sure your pet gets their medicine. There is only so much we can do if we send you home with a coarse of antibiotics and you don’t give them to your pet. And coming in once every 3-4 months when your dog’s ears are so infected they reek and they’re bleeding then complaining about we can’t fix it when we depend on you to keep treating at home isn’t going to get anything done. We depend on you to be your pet’s advocate, whether that be making sure they get daily meds, or weekly ears checks or simply making sure they get water and food.
There aren’t a lot of single dose fixes out there, sometimes we just need to keep up some level of constant maintenance.
Sometimes We Take Your Pet To the Back Because…
-Because they are better behaved without you around
-Because they are very vocal and likely to scream/hiss/yowl about the smallest thing, like us touching them, and we don’t want you to get anxious or think we’re hurting them
-Because sometimes we need to curse or joke or vent while also working with/on your pet and it gives us the privacy to do so
-Because sometimes pets fight no matter what and it allows us to restrain them in a way that keeps them and us safe, but also in a way which might panic you (like pinning them on their side, or having multiple people hold them)
-Because sometimes things get messy. Dogs and cats might pee out of fear, express their anal glands or poop. Sometimes when we draw blood a pet’s blood pressure might be up and they might bleed a little so we take them in the back so we can clean them up if this happens and you don’t have to see the messy parts of medical care.
-Because sometime we NEED to lock ourselves in and lock distractions out. Do I even need to express the importance of a dog being absolutely still if we are doing something like flushing a blocked tear duct or repairing/rechecking a corneal tear?
We Love Your Pets
We really do. When the time has come for euthanasia and you can’t bear to stay we make sure your pet always has loving hands stroking them and sweet talk in their ears. We look at our appointments and cringe when we hear something is going wrong. Even the bad ones, even the ones that never quite learn to potty outside, even the mean ones and the neurotic ones. We love them all and we want to see them and you happy (honestly, them more than you).