What is Low Stress Handling?
Low Stress Handling is controlling the movements of your cat or dog without using lots of force. It is a way of conditioning the animal to actually enjoy most procedures, toe nail trims, ear cleanings, injection giving, etc. Veterinary professionals do their best to restrain the animal for procedures, and this is just a way to do it so that it doesn't seem restraining, and so the animal isn't fearful of the veterinary hospital.
What Are Ways to Perform Low Stress Handling Techniques?
The best way is to use softer materials to help with procedures. For example, a towel wrapped around covering an unhappy cat's head can calm him or her down. Or a dog may react better with a thick blanket around its head instead of a technician's arms. A lot of the times the holding still is the hardest part. Materials, if used right, help technicians and veterinarians preform procedures without much restraint. Sometimes even just a treat at the right time can help.
What Is the Difference Between Low Stress Handling and the Way It Has Always Been Done?
Over time we have learned from animals their reactions to things, movements and people, such as the dog who is afraid of all men but does fine with women, or the cat who hates being around people that are standing over them, etc. Animals have particular non-verbal cues, and at Bradford Hills Veterinary Hospital we have learned to bring these Low Stress Handling techniques into the field and make it an all-around more pleasurable experience for the owners and patients.
Why Take the Pet Into the Treatment Area or In the "Back"?
Although keeping a pet with its parent is usually best, sometimes pet parents can make their pets more stressed in a hospital environment. Some of our procedures can make clients nervous, even if the animal may not be bothered at all. The sight of needles or blood-drawing can make owners ill, and blood-drawing is a procedure that we often do during appointments. And no matter how hard we try to avoid it, we are likely to get bit in this profession, and a bite can make an owner upset to see.
The bottom line is that we would like everyone – animal and owner – to have a pleasant experience at our hospital. Low Stress Handling is a way to make it a favorite place instead of a feared place.
Jennifer Dunn has been a veterinary technician for 10 years and has worked at Bradford Hills Veterinary Hospital for 9. She has earned degrees in nursing, veterinary technology and computer technology. She has always been interested in Low Stress Handling and would love for animals everywhere to not be "scared" during hospital visits. She holds silver certification in Low Stress Handling.