"My dogs not scared." Yeah, right.

May 4, 2016
Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB
Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Radosta is the owner of Florida Veterinary Behavior Service in West Palm Beach, Florida. She completed a residency in behavioral medicine at University of Pennsylvania where she received two national research awards. She has authored textbook chapters; writes a column for the Palm Beach Post and podcasts CE for VetGirl. She has published research papers on thyroid disease and clinician client communication and has lectured across the country and internationally. She is the behavior section editor for Small Animal Advances in Medicine and Surgery, sits on the American Animal Hospital Association Behavior Management Guidelines Task Force and the Fear Free Advisory Board.

Help veterinary clients get scared straight by pointing out signs in fear in their pets.

Yep. This dog is completely at ease. (Sarcasm by Vetted; image by Getty Images)If your clinic is embracing the movement toward keeping each veterinary visit as low stress as possible for every patient, you may be facing this client comment in the exam room: “But my dog's not afraid.”

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta says even in her behavior clinic, she cannot tell you how many times she hears this from clients. You have two choices at this point, she says. Either just say, “Yes, your dog is afraid” and leave it at that. Or tell the client the dog is afraid and explain how you know.

An example from Dr. Radosta: “Your dog's tail is tucked. The tail below the top line equals fear. Your dog's ears are very far back against his head; that equals fear. Your dog's pupils are dilated. Look at my eyes-are my pupils dilated? My pupils are having a normal response to light. Why are your dog's pupils dilated? It's called a sympathetic nervous system response.” It takes mere seconds to explain, and your clients are left thinking you're a genius (rightly so!) and have better insight into identifying signs of fear themselves.