13 fur-raising fears in pets
Mindy Valcarcel is the Medicine Channel Director for dvm360.com, Vetted and dvm360 magazine.
Needles, white coats, baths ... The world is full of frightful stuff for your veterinary patients.
Do your veterinary patients suffer from any of the following phobias? For some of these conditions, you can alleviate the fears with a few tweaks in the exam room or a few words with their owners. For some, well, it's just canine or feline nature.
All images from Getty Images (with spooky effects courtesy of Alison Fulton)
No, not the fear of 19th-century chick lit (though those Brontë sisters had a penchant for horror). Brontophobia is the fear of thunder and lightning, which is quite common in pets. There's a reason Snoopy always started his stories with “It was a dark and stormy night …”
Here's a handout to help your clients lessen the effects of this chilling phobia.
Ah! Because of your phlebotomy skills, you got this one because you know “leuko” means “white.” Yes, this is the fear of the color white. Did you know white is visually jarring to dogs and cats? See why here.
Well, either that or your veterinary patients are smart enough to associate white coats with thermometers up the butt, blood draws and the like.
Cat-this-phobia? Catniss, or Katniss, phobia? Yes, some pets do have reason to fear women armed with a bow and arrows, but really cathisophobia is the fear of sitting down, which is all too familiar to your “hyper” patients.
Here's how to investigate whether something more sinister is going on in your overactive patients.
Kynophobia is the fear of rabies, a disease which is pretty much an immediate death sentence for pets. Sadly, we know it can't even be definitively diagnosed in a live animal. This fear makes sense! Luckily, vaccinating regularly against rabies is one area in which dog and cat owners are quite compliant. Now if we can just get those bat owners to come in …
Speaking of rabies vaccinations, trypanophobia is the fear of needles. A pleasant wellness exam for you? Poking and prodding for pets, with an emphasis on the poking, whether in the form of giving a vaccine or collecting a blood sample.
Here are some ways to distract pets so they hopefully won't even notice:
Fear of needles? We've got that one solved now. But how about that other route of administration-oral. Pharmacophobia, the fear of medications, is truly terrorizing to some patients, especially when it comes to pilling patients of the feline persuasion.
We have some tricks for your clients for that too:
Pets like routine. Pets like familiar. So enchlophobia, the fear of crowds, is a natural one for many pets. Immersion amongst a bunch of strange people being loud and obnoxious? Yikes, now I'm terrified, too.
Monophobia, the fear of being alone, gets its own diagnostic term in veterinary behavior practice: separation anxiety. We have a treasure trove of resources to help your patients with this frustrating and destructive behavior problem.
“Who is that kitty in the window? Wait! WHO IS THAT FREAKING KITTY IN THE WINDOW!?!”
When pets first catch their own reflection in a mirror, they may suffer from spectrophobia, or a fear of mirrors. Much meowing or barking may ensue at first because the pet likely thinks it's suddenly seeing a strange animal close at hand. But this fear seems to subside on further exposure. Fair warning, you may end up with some narcissistic patients. At least they may keep their weight down.
Bathtubs may be scary to you because of that one scene in The Shining. Yeah, that one. Ablutophobia, the fear of bathing, is also far-reaching in our four-footed friends because of many factors-the water, the confinement, the scrubbing ... But it's a fact of life: Pets get dirty. Or they may need frequent baths because of a dermatologic condition. Sorry dogs and cats, you're just gonna have to suck it up on this one.
Oh, that other scene in The Shining-the one where Danny is roaming down the empty hotel hallways on his Big Wheel. Gives cyclophobia, the fear of bicycles, a whole new meaning.
Think about this one from your patient's perspective: The spinning spokes, the size of that metallic beast, the really quick approach and then departure. “What was that? That is not good.”
You know this has something to do with the eyes with that “ophthalmo” lead-in. Learning all those medical terms has made you so smart! Ophthalmophobia is the fear of being stared at. We LOVE pets and could watch them for days, but they don't really like that. Here's proof.
That's right. This is the fear of Halloween itself. There are so many reasons this time of year can be scary for pets-constant doorbell ringing, people dressed in weird clothes acting strangely, the stress of not being able to eat that delicious chocolate candy bar, or-big dread-getting dressed up by your owner for the big night.
By the way, if you haven't seen our photo gallery of pets put through just this latter terrifying, or humiliating, experience, click here (yes, we're shameless).