I hear stories of people feeling too embarrassed to take their pet to the vets. They may have had traumatic experiences previously, or been made to feel unwelcome by veterinary staff or other clients. This makes me so sad. An animal's behaviour should never be a barrier to them receiving adequate care.
Being a vet, a behaviourist and the owner of a dog who finds accessing veterinary care extremely challenging, this is a topic I feel passionately about.
The veterinary staff, the owner and the patient may all have very differing opinions and concerns, yet they all need to be considered.
- No one should be put at risk whilst doing their job. Being bitten by a patient could have a permenant impact on the vet's ability to perform their job.
- Client's should never be made to feel unwelcome at a practice due to their pet's behaviour. Doing so will only prevent them from seeking professional help & advice when it is needed, and ultimately their pet's welfare will suffer.
- No animal should ever be treated as if they do not deserve care because of how they behave. An animal's behaviour has no impact on it's worth or value as a sentient being.
As a client if you dred taking your pet to the vet please ask for help. Many practices will be willing to advise you on what may make visits easier for everyone involved. For example muzzle training, teaching your pet to tolerate restraint, trialling pre visit medications etc.
If the veterinary practice are unable or unwilling to support you I would encourage you to research alternative practices, for example those who are listed with www.fearfreepets.com (any pet) or www.catfriendlyclinic.org (for cats).
If your pet's behaviour prevents them from accessing even basic care (be that due to extreme fear, aggression and/or inability to travel) please reach out for help. Even better if you tackle the problems early on and intervene before things become so bad. There is hope.
Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like help or find another ABTC registered clinical animal behaviourist at www.abtc.org