Covid’s Hidden Gifts for Pets.
- Cars as Reception Rooms:
It is a now an uncontestable given that it would be preferable of all cats and most dogs to be allowed to sit and wait in their owner’s cars, not sit in a vet reception area before their visit. Staying in the car outperforms any set-up even the best Cat-only or Cat-friendly clinic can provide. Cats are inherently reclusive, so the less exposure to other unknown cats, dogs, people, pocket pets the better for the individual cats. Even after social distancing rules relax closer to the summer, the option to wait outside in your car with your pet, but especially your cats, is something owners should still make use of.
- Dogs miss visitors too.
What was amusing to see was how many dogs during social distancing missed human visitors, somewhat similar how to the zoo and aquarium inhabitants have missed seeing the visitors. Many dogs were beyond excited to visit us, even some of the not-so-fussed-about-vet dogs were thrilled to see new humans, especially with all the new physical and verbal contact and the pats they received.
One little anxious rescue dog, on her third yearly visit, was so beyond delighted with our company she was positively delirious by the end of the visit: her tail was the best imitation of a helicopter rotator we have seen. We were left smiling all day at the thought of her joy.
- Masks don’t bother most dogs.
What was not a given was how most dogs were not fazed by humans wearing masks; in fact, the opposite happened. The dogs now only have to focus on eyes and body language, none of these weird facial grimaces humans make that can be confusing. The dogs settled fast, were much more cooperative, resulting in less time for the dog to be in the stress zone. Enjoy Morillo the first time he saw Dr Aine wearing a mask. His big ‘smile-head bob’ around 9 seconds in is beyond adorable
The sound on the video is off so whilst it might ‘look’ like he is barking, he is actually making the most adorable squeaks to try to get his vet to come closer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qk9QQBv1o0
- Human Stress Pollution.
The unforeseen bonus of reducing the people traffic coming into the building and reducing the time pets are actually inside, was a massive drop in back round stress chemicals left by others; what we call ‘Stress Pollution’ which all pets can pick up and be affected by in a bad way. Instead, the vet clinic itself becomes less confusing and worrying; all was calm and quiet, with the only humans inside seemingly very easy to read as so chilled and also with pockets full of treats.
For 99% of the dogs, even the usual ‘stress-head’ suspects, not having the owner inside with them additionally reduced the pet’s own stress levels. The pet didn’t have read ‘Mum or Dad’s’ often worried face and there no need to try to protect ‘Mum or Dad’- the pet only had to worry about themselves. Given there wasn’t much to stress about in this quiet place, a place seemingly filled with calm humans, the pets behaved incredibly well.
Best of all for the pets, those calm masked humans then took the pet back outside and helped the pet find their owner-to much joy and reunion all round.
For the 1% who struggled, we had work arounds so all pets got to access veterinary treatment.
Hope this helps reassure any anxious owners that their pets were probably doing better than the owner during the visit to the vet.
Moving forward, veterinary visits should evolve to include a mix of the old and the new visit protocols so that pets continue to benefit from lessons learnt.