Everybody knows that it’s scary for dogs and cats to come to the vet, right? Wrong! Here at Animal Hospital of North Asheville, we’re always looking for ways to increase comfort and reduce fear in our patients. We love hearing about dogs who get excited to come see us, or cats who love our snuggling and treats. We have recently added some new features to make your pet’s visit even more comfortable and low stress.
If you’ve brought your pet in recently, you have probably noticed the padded mats covered by soft fleece blankets. We have placed these comfortable mats on the floor of our dog waiting area and the dog exam rooms, and on all of the exam tables. These soft surfaces give pets a comfortable place to sit before and during their exams, and eliminate the sensation of having their feet slip on the tile floor or the solid exam table surfaces. Our patients, whether young or elderly, have really enjoyed the extra padding. Of course, we take cleanliness very seriously too, so the fleece blankets are changed between each patient and laundered after each use.
Our hospital is designed to provide plenty of room for our hospitalized patients and their families who may want to spend time here with their pet. Our design also provides enough space for pet parents to accompany their pet during blood draws or other treatments that take place during out-patient appointments. The dog and cat wards have relaxing videos for our patients’ visual entertainment. We have now added soothing music to our treatment and ward areas, but not just any music. Behavioral research has shown that classical music, played simply and in a specific range and tempo, can have a significant calming effect on dogs and cats. Each patient area has its own I-Calm music player programmed with this relaxing soundtrack specifically for dogs or cats. Our staff members find this music to be pretty relaxing, too!
Another important but invisible way that we’re committed to calming our patients is with the use of Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs. Each of these products is a synthetic calming pheromone which has been scientifically shown to reduce stress and help make an unfamiliar environment feel more familiar. By using both diffusers and spray throughout the hospital, we are able to maintain a constant presence of these important pheromones. To people, they’re odorless, but to cats and dogs, they represent comfort. We recommend these products for home use in stressful situations, and for transporting nervous pets in their carriers or the car.
Of course, AHNA is known for our liberal supply of delicious treats for dogs and cats! It is important for you to understand that giving treats during a veterinary visit is beneficial to your pet. We can get better, more accurate information when examining a relaxed pet. Fortunately, pets do not value treats for their size. The effect of giving a very small treat is just as great as the effect of a large size treat. The pet is happy they got a treat, large or small, so we keep the treats very small so as not to upset the stomach. However, what really changes their mind about the visit is if they can have frequent treats. So please bear with us as we give treats and remember they are small and that they are important. They really serve to help your pet. An added benefit is that by building trust in our patients through the use of treats, if your pet is ever really sick, they will feel more positive and more likely allow us to put in an IV catheter or take x-rays, for example, even if they are too sick to appreciate treats.
As always, our dog friends are offered a variety of treats, including low calorie freeze-dried liver treats, peanut butter, cheese, and hypoallergenic treats for dogs on a special diet. If your dog is on a specific diet or prefers another type of treat, please bring some goodies from home. We have a variety of treat options for our finicky (and not-so-finicky) felines, including Tartar Shield crunchies, cheese, cups of tuna, and pill pockets (these are really tasty!). Especially if your pet is easily stressed, it is best if they are a little bit hungry when they come in because then they will be much more interested in eating treats. Pets that eat treats during veterinary visits end up feeling much more positive about the experience.
All of these enhancements are in addition to our ongoing commitment to providing a fear-free visit through the use of gentle, knowledgeable and patient handling. Our loving and caring doctors and staff want your pet to feel comfortable during the visit and want you to know that you are always welcome to accompany your pet unless they are undergoing anesthesia, radiology or chemotherapy. At these times, due to safety concerns, you will have to wait elsewhere in the hospital. Please know nothing makes us happier than seeing a dog or cat learn to trust us and feel more relaxed.
For more about accompanying your pet at Animal Hospital of North Asheville, click here.