Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

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

Version 1 : Received: 5 December 2020 / Approved: 7 December 2020 / Online: 7 December 2020 (11:33:36 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 31 December 2020 / Approved: 5 January 2021 / Online: 5 January 2021 (11:15:02 CET)
Version 3 : Received: 7 January 2021 / Approved: 8 January 2021 / Online: 8 January 2021 (14:37:01 CET)

How to cite: Riemer, S.; Heritier, C.; Windschnurer, I.; Arhant, C.; Pratsch, L.; Affenzeller, N. A Review on Mitigating Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats in a Veterinary Setting. Preprints 2020, 2020120138 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0138.v1). Riemer, S.; Heritier, C.; Windschnurer, I.; Arhant, C.; Pratsch, L.; Affenzeller, N. A Review on Mitigating Fear and Aggression in Dogs and Cats in a Veterinary Setting. Preprints 2020, 2020120138 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0138.v1).

Abstract

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. 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. Some negative experiences such as short-term pain from injections can be minimised by using tactile and cognitive distractions. Preemptive analgesia is recommended for known painful procedures. 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 stress and fear in patients and consequently their owners – thus strengthening the relationship with the clients as well as increasing the professional satisfaction of veterinary staff.

Subject Areas

Stress; fear; anxiety; aggression; veterinary visit; low-stress handling; counterconditioning; behaviour modification; anxiolytic medication; psychoactive drugs; dogs; cats

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