We encourage a discussion on how the experience can be improved so here are our initial thoughts on creating/improving a “calm environment” for pets and clients. Below is a list of some ideas we have compiled.
We are very interested to hear your thoughts on these ideas in addition to any ideas you may have.
The Veterinary Hospital
• Reduce the time the animal needs to spend in the reception area being exposed to unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. Establish a “pager” system similar to popular restaurants whereby the animal can remain in the car or outdoors until the owner is alerted to actually enter the exam room.
• Have a streaming video of calming scenery and sounds in the exam room to promote a more relaxed animal and owner.
• Get acquainted with exotic animal practitioners in the area and be willing to refer a patient to one who will be knowledgeable about working with all species.
• Provide for the mental health of the hospitalized pet. Designate a person in the hospital who is not directly involved in treatments who can provide compassion and comfort for the patient – just ‘being’ with the animal to encourage a sense of security and healing.
• Any air neutralizer or disinfectant used between patients should be of the “safe” variety as many are toxic (should be specifically safe for birds).
Service to Owner
• Much of the fear expressed by the animal relates to the fear of the owners, especially regarding cost of the diagnosis and treatment. Offer a pre-visit consultation regarding financial options for care regardless of the problem and some discussion of what to expect during the veterinary visit.
• Owners may be fearful because they do not know enough about their species. Establish a networking relationship with exotic animal professional organizations to refer owners for proper husbandry and other care requirements: Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV), Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV), Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV).
• Depending on the case and problem, be willing to offer some prophylactic/preventive/
Service to Patient
• Some birds respond to the following suggestions for a more pleasant experience:
– Transport the bird, if possible, in a box with fabric covered holes so it can vaguely see out.
– Keep exam rooms dimly lit (or even dark) to keep the bird calm.
– Pick up the bird from a low area, low table or even the floor.
– In some cases, it may work to take the bird out of the client’s sight to do the procedure.
• Allow owners to spend sufficient time with a hospitalized animal for comfort and to provide feeding or other special/social needs