Many animals coming into the vet’s office are nervous about their visit. Thrust into a new environment, with strange people poking at them, the scent of strange animals all around, it’s no wonder they have a little healthcare anxiety.
As a veterinary technician, one of your main tasks is setting the emotional tone for the rest of the visit. Your demeanor is something the pet can sense; if you are nervous at the prospect of dealing with an anxious animal, you’re more likely to make the patient more nervous.
At the same time, no one wants to get bitten by a stressed animal, and it’s a little difficult to hide your emotions when faced with the prospect of dealing with a “problem” pet. But an important part of your job is to keep the peace and stay cool.
Staying the compassionate caregiver is vital both to preventing injury to yourself, and to maintain your professionalism and keep your office running smoothly. Aside from your personal health, it also potentially endangers others in the office, including the veterinarian.
So how do you do it? First, create a soothing environment as much as possible. If you know a particularly anxious animal is coming in, set up an area for that pet to be alone. Try to have it ready when the dog arrives, and move him or her into it as soon as possible.
Next, greet the pet in the right way. Approaching the pet is pivotal, according to this article from veterinarian Dr. Sophia Yin. Approaching too quickly or even at the wrong angle can put the dog into panic mode. “Staff should instead greet by standing sideways and getting down at the dog’s level while averting their gaze,” she said. Consider a treat or two off the bat to instill trust.
Once in the exam room, it’s important to handle the pet properly and gently. Rely on your training and be sure you support, guide, and turn them properly.
The way you treat your patients is arguably the most important part of your job. Handle your pet patients with care!