Next Article in Journal
The Modulating Effect of Dietary Beta-Glucan Supplementation on Expression of Immune Response Genes of Broilers during a Coccidiosis Challenge
Previous Article in Journal
Whole Genome Sequencing Reveals the Effects of Recent Artificial Selection on Litter Size of Bamei Mutton Sheep
Review

A Review on Mitigating Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats in a Veterinary Setting

1
Companion Animal Behaviour Group, Division of Animal Welfare, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
2
Independent Researcher, 88045 Friedrichshafen, Germany
3
Institute of Animal Welfare Science, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna), 1210 Vienna, Austria
4
Veterinary Behaviour Consultant, 1200 Vienna, Austria
5
Department of Companion Animals, Clinical Unit of Internal Medicine Small Animals, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna), 1210 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(1), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010158
Received: 28 October 2020 / Revised: 2 January 2021 / Accepted: 5 January 2021 / Published: 12 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
The majority of dogs and cats are fearful during veterinary visits, and some individuals may show aggression as a result. We review ways to avoid negative experiences and promote positive emotions in animals visiting the veterinarian. Whenever an animal is in the practice, the veterinary team should endeavour to make the visit as pleasant as possible, by using non-threatening body language and by creating positive associations. High-value food (unless an animal needs to be fasted) or toys should be used generously throughout the visit. In the interaction with the animals, low-stress handling methods, brief pauses and adjusting the procedure based on the animal’s body language help them to feel secure. Distractions can be used to minimise perceived pain such as from injections. If a known painful area needs to be treated, pain killers are advised. For animals that are very fearful, several medication options are available that can be given prior to the veterinary visit to help them with their fears. With reward-based training, animals can learn to accept veterinary procedures. A stress-free veterinary visit benefits all involved parties—the animals, their owners, as well as the veterinary team.
A high proportion of dogs and cats are fearful during veterinary visits, which in some cases may escalate into aggression. Here, we discuss factors that contribute to negative emotions in a veterinary setting and how these can be addressed. We briefly summarise the available evidence for the interventions discussed. The set-up of the waiting area (e.g., spatial dividers; elevated places for cat carriers), tailoring the examination and the treatment to the individual, considerate handling (minimal restraint when possible, avoiding leaning over or cornering animals) and offering high-value food or toys throughout the visit can promote security and, ideally, positive associations. Desensitisation and counterconditioning are highly recommended, both to prevent and address existing negative emotions. Short-term pain from injections can be minimised by using tactile and cognitive distractions and topical analgesics, which are also indicated for painful procedures such as ear cleanings. Recommendations for handling fearful animals to minimise aggressive responses are discussed. However, anxiolytics or sedation should be used whenever there is a risk of traumatising an animal or for safety reasons. Stress-reducing measures can decrease fear and stress in patients and consequently their owners, thus strengthening the relationship with the clients as well as increasing the professional satisfaction of veterinary staff. View Full-Text
Keywords: stress; fear; anxiety; aggression; veterinary visit; low-stress handling; counterconditioning; behaviour modification; anxiolytic medication; psychoactive drugs; dogs; cats stress; fear; anxiety; aggression; veterinary visit; low-stress handling; counterconditioning; behaviour modification; anxiolytic medication; psychoactive drugs; dogs; cats
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Riemer, S.; Heritier, C.; Windschnurer, I.; Pratsch, L.; Arhant, C.; Affenzeller, N. A Review on Mitigating Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats in a Veterinary Setting. Animals 2021, 11, 158. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010158

AMA Style

Riemer S, Heritier C, Windschnurer I, Pratsch L, Arhant C, Affenzeller N. A Review on Mitigating Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats in a Veterinary Setting. Animals. 2021; 11(1):158. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010158

Chicago/Turabian Style

Riemer, Stefanie, Carmen Heritier, Ines Windschnurer, Lydia Pratsch, Christine Arhant, and Nadja Affenzeller. 2021. "A Review on Mitigating Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats in a Veterinary Setting" Animals 11, no. 1: 158. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010158

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop