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Anxiety and Stress Associated with Veterinary Visits

  • August 15, 2017 10:58 AM EDT

    Initiatives to educate veterinary health care providers on techniques to promote "Fear Free" veterinary office visits for pets are stronger than ever.

    Several studies have examined the effect of music on stress levels in humans and animals. It's been previously demonstrated that:

    • Relaxation was greater in shelter dogs exposed to classical music as compared to rock, pop, and other types of music
    • Cows exposed to music voluntarily entered the milking shed
    • Chickens have shown improved weight gain with exposure to classical music
    • Chimps have been shown to relax more and demonstrate decreased aggression when exposed to music of a slower tempo
    • Use of various musical genres in the surgical setting impacts the physiologic responses of anesthetized patients including cats undergoing ovariohysterectomy

    A trip to the veterinarian's office can be stressful for both the pet and its owner. In a recent Specialty Update (running time: 11 mins) we spoke with Melissa Bain, DVM, DACVB, DACAW, MS - a veterinary behaviorist at the University of California-Davis - about a study that examined the effect of classical music on a pet's anxiety and level of aggression during a veterinary visit. They also looked at the effect of classical music on the people involved including the pet owners' perception of their visit, as well as how the veterinary professionals felt about classical music playing in the exam room.

    Dr. Melissa Bain introduces her specialty update on the effect of classical music on dog behavior and client satisfaction with veterinary visits. View the entire presentation on demand (running time: 11 mins) compliments of VetVine!



    • 146 posts
    August 16, 2017 6:03 PM EDT

    One of the interesting findings of this study (to me) - that didn't get much discussion - was that veterinary clinicians assessed their canine patients as having lower levels of anxiety and aggression in the exam room when compared to the pet owners' assessments. 

    I think this is probably a learning point for all who work in the veterinary practice setting. We are all very busy and have a lot to do and get through in the course of our work day. Seems that maybe sometimes we lose sight of how our patients are actually feeling and of our clients' perceptions.

    I can recall one feline patient on which I'd performed an eye exam.  She laid perfectly still and required very little restraint.  I was surprised - when I remarked at the end of the exam that she'd been such a good patient - that the owner said ... "she was scared stiff" ... which is not what I'd even considered.  

    Our lack of awareness and acknowledgement about how our patients are feeling can obviously affect our future interactions with those pets, and can certainly impact a client's perception of us and whether they consider us a "good fit" as caregivers for their pet(s) over the long haul.

    • 310 posts
    December 5, 2017 2:09 PM EST

    A paper was recently published regarding the effect of one intervention - the oral administration of gabapentin - for reducing the stress associated with the transport to the veterinarian's office and the examination. Here's a preview:

    Learn more about this study, dosing gabapentin, and its possible side effects.