7 steps to make your veterinary practice comfortable for older pets
Use these tips to ease the pain and strain of a veterinary visit for senior pets.
As pets age, they may suffer from pain and osteoarthritis. While your veterinarian will help create a plan to manage these conditions, you can help with a pain-free hospital environment that's easier for senior pets to navigate. Consider this advice from Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member Sharon DeNayer, practice manager of Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor, Colo., to smooth the path for pets that visit your practice:
1 Steer pet owners with aging pets to your ADA-compliant practice entrance. Remind clients that even though they may not need extra help, their four-legged pets may appreciate a level entrance with a ramp and no stairs.
2 Tame slippery floors. Snow, rain and spills can turn your reception floor into a slippery space for furry friends. So make a point to wipe up the water and spills. You may also purchase interlocking squares or rubber runners to create a slip-free surface.
3 Bypass the waiting room. Standing and sitting over and over again can be uncomfortable for elderly pets. Taking them directly to an exam room eliminates some of the ups and downs that get them down during a veterinary visit.
4 Keep slings on hand to stabilize dogs who experience difficulty walking or struggle with balance issues.
5 Encourage pet owners to opt for a harness. Painful animals are much more comfortable with a leash attached to a harness instead of a collar, DeNayer says. "If you sell halters at your clinic, your team should know how to fit them properly to the pet," she says. "And if a pet comes in with a halter, you should make sure it's fitted properly. And if clients purchase the halter elsewhere, encourage them to bring the pet and the halter to the clinic for a complimentary fitting."
6 Use non-skid mats on your exam tables. And ask your doctor about performing exams for large and medium-sized dogs on the floor. "It's painful for these pets to be lifted on the table, and they may not be steady standing on the table," DeNayer says. "It's often easier for the doctor to get down than it is for the pet to get up."
7 Buy a towel warmer. Pets always appreciate a warm towel on an exam table, and you can drape or wrap small animals in a towel. You can also spray the towels with synthetic feline facial pheromones or dog-appeasing pheromones before warming.
Visit dvm360.com/seniorcomfort for more tips and links to helpful videos designed to help adapt your practice for older pets.