Lately I have had a lot of conversations about fearless drugs. Much good, others less good. I wanted to explain why fearlessness is so important to me, what it means to me, and also what it means to your pet. It’s a movement that has gained a lot of ground in veterinary medicine, and in my opinion, that’s a good thing.
I have been to the doctor a lot and have had a lot of operations. I could still take it in stride without stress. A few years ago, however, I had an extremely stressful experience and procedure. I still sometimes feel my heart rate speeding up and bordering on panic when I enter hospitals. It’s a new feeling for me, strange and very unpleasant. I now have a lot of extra sympathy for animals that get nervous at the vet.
The first thing I want to clear up is that being nervous at the vet makes your dog think bad or think less of him. I bring my dogs to work very often. I’m their vet plus their owner, feeder, walker, and everything in between. They’ll be happy and relaxed here and I’ll just think about cutting their fingernails or spilling blood and walk into my office to find them shaking in a corner. They are excellent dogs and they love me, but that doesn’t mean they like procedures or that there is anything wrong with being nervous.
Plus, no dog likes nail clippings. And I mean it literally. I can cut my dogs’ claws on my own, but even the second they see the nail clippers, they run and hide from me. So if your dog is nervous about the vet clinic and nervous about nail trimming, this is a bad combination.
People often balk because when they are given premedication, their dogs are sleepy for at least 12 hours. So you are basically wasting a whole day of fun stuff with your dog. But what your dog gains is a less stressful experience. Our cats are not used to leaving the house, so being in a strange place puts an extra layer of stress on them.
I’m often asked if we can’t just hold them tight and cut our nails or do our exams. Of course, we are physically able to hold most dogs and cats down and cut their fingernails. But we are not willing to do it because it creates a scary experience for the dog. Not to mention that it is a security issue. Even a dog’s sweetest cream puff will crackle when in a situation with no other options. Deep in their hearts, this is the answer all dogs will have and I am waiting.
We’re always working to make sure pets are comfortable with treats, calm voices, and soft touches. However, sometimes they need more than that. It is only so comfortable that you can do a nail cut and a bowel palpation.
Some pets may be weaned from premedication as they have more and more visits that are less stressful. Some pets say no thanks to vet visits and still need medication. The first is our goal, but both are coming and both are doing well. The important thing for me is that every visit we have with your pet is as stress free as possible. There are many ways to accomplish this, but if it comes down to giving your pet stress relieving medication, this is a very important step. It helps them and it helps us. It doesn’t always help the owner, but my recommendation is to schedule the visit on a day when everyone is happy to chill out for the day and enjoy the peace!