For your feline, canine, and other furred and feathered patients, a visit to your vet practice can sometimes be a stressful experience. After all, they’re entering an unfamiliar environment and getting up close and personal with an unfamiliar person (you) as they’re examined and treated. That’s why one of the latest trends in vet practice fitouts and refurbishments is the concept of fear-free (aka low-stress) design.
With a few carefully-selected design elements in your practice, you can help to lower visiting animals’ stress. In turn, this minimises the chance that stress will interfere with their diagnosis or behaviour. And it improves the experience for their human owners, too.
Below are a few simple ideas for fear-free vet practice design, with an emphasis on practices treating dogs and cats.
Dogs, in particular, are sensitive to noises – especially loud or sudden noises. So are cats.
As such, soundproofing between treatment areas and other zones throughout your practice is a sensible fear-free measure. You can also play music that’s specifically for animals. Remembering, of course, that dogs and cats like different music at different volumes. Another alternative is to play white noise to help create a calmer environment.
Different design features can help to make your treatment rooms more comfortable for dogs and cats.
Ideally, your treatment and exam rooms should be dedicated to only cats or only dogs. This allows you to add specific fear-free design elements in each room. For example, treating dogs and physically examining them on the floor, rather than on a table, can help to make the treatment experience less stressful. If they do need to go onto a table, adding steps or ramps for climbing will help to make the experience more pleasant.
Dogs and cats have finely-tuned senses, so it pays to keep these in mind when fitting out or refurbishing your veterinary practice.
Carefully-chosen pheromones can lower stress for dogs and cats. As these will be different for each species, this is only practical if you have cat-only and dog-only rooms. Keeping cats and dogs away from one another’s scents is great for lowering stress. This can be also be accomplished using separate entrances for each species.
Racecourse Road Vet Hospital practices a low-stress approach to vet care and is currently undergoing official fear-free certification. The practice features separate cat and dog wards, heated and air conditioned recovery suites, and warm, comfortable bedding. The hospital also encourages its clients to bring a special toy or bed from home for their patients requiring a longer stay.
Pet Wellness Centre designed their clinic specifically to separate cats and dogs. As a result, the practice has been awarded Cat Friendly Clinic Accreditation by the International Society of Feline Medicine. At their clinic cats enjoy a dedicated entrance, ward, waiting and consult room, as well as cat calming diffusers and cat-friendly tunes.
At Elite Fitout Solutions, we have years of experience helping vet practice owners create the ideal practice for their animal patients. These ideas are just a handful of strategies for making your vet practice fear-free.
Call us on 1300 765 344 to discuss how we can help with your next vet practice fitout or refurbishment.