Working Paper Review Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed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 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

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. 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.

Subject Areas

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

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 5 January 2021
Commenter: Stefanie Riemer
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: We have included several more papers, especially those published in 2020, that contained relevant information to the topic, and made some additional modifications to the text.
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