Whether you’re currently studying to become a veterinary technician/veterinary assistant or are already working in the field, the fact remains that many of the animals you come into contact with in the vet’s office are noticeably scared, nervous, or skittish. As a vet tech or vet assistant, one of your first responsibilities is helping a pet feel comfortable and calm. After all, for some animals, fear or anxiety can quickly turn into aggression, which puts both you and others inside the office at risk.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to calm a distressed animal and make for a more relaxed environment for all involved.
Approach with Caution
While it may be tempting to greet an animal by immediately reaching out to pet or otherwise handle it, it’s imperative that you approach a skittish animal with caution. Many animals rely heavily on scent, so slowly extending your hand and allowing the animal to sniff/pick up your scent before attempting to handle the animal is always a good idea.
Get on Their Level
Furthermore, when approaching an animal, it’s generally best to do so from the side and to get on their level. This may mean having its owner place it on an exam table in front of you or even you kneeling down on the ground to get as close to eye-level with the animal as possible. Doing so will help them feel less threatened and more comfortable.
Keep a Stash of Treats
Many animals are food-motivated, so keeping a small stash of treats readily available can also come in handy. Consider keeping sealed jars of treats on the exam tables in the clinic where you work. Just be sure to ask the pet’s owner for permission to give it a treat before you do so, as some pets have food allergies or may otherwise be sensitive to certain ingredients in the treats.
Be Calm and Collected
Do your best to stay calm yourself when greeting or handling a nervous animal. Believe it or not, animals (especially dogs and cats) can sense when you’re stressed, and those feelings of stress or agitation can easily translate to their own emotions. When you enter the vet clinic, then, you need to put any stressors or issues aside until your shift is over.
Let Pets Remain in Carriers
Finally, if you’re dealing with a small pet that has been brought to the vet clinic in a carrier (such as a cat), consider having the owner place the carrier on top of the exam table. If possible, allow the animal to remain in the carrier while you conduct your business. While you may need to remove the animal from the carrier to get its weight, you can help it feel more comfortable by allowing it to remain in a familiar place while you perform other tasks.
Dealing with a stressed-out animal in the clinic is never easy, but by following these tips, you can help calm and soothe even the most agitated animals.
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