The dog-friendly practice

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In recent years much has been done to make veterinary practices more ‘cat-friendly’, and now ‘rabbit-friendly’ measures are being introduced. There seems to be a feeling that all small animal practices are already ‘dog-friendly’ and that no further thought or research is therefore needed. Sadly, this can be far from true and a lot of dog owners do feel that more could, and should, be done for their pets too. This chapter looks at practice design considerations, practice equipment, handling and restraint and nurse clinics.

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1.1 Rubber mats on consulting room tables and in baths will stop dogs slipping on the surface. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.2 These waste bins, clearly labelled, are situated in a preparation area away from the areas of the practice where dogs usually go. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.3 A designated dog waste bin close to the practice entrance.
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1.4 Both these practices have entrance doors that allow clients to see what is happening inside before entering the building. There is also a ramp for wheelchair access.
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1.5 This owner can sit with both her pets. The dog is on a lead while the cat is safely in its carrier on the shelf behind. The shelf dividers can be moved to allow for different sizes of basket and box. The table, although low, divides the waiting room and allows dogs to sit opposite each other without feeling too threatened. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.6 The door to this small room can be closed to provide a separate waiting area. Originally the glass panel extended the whole length of the door, but as dogs could see each other through the glass, confrontations sometimes still occurred. Reception staff realized the problem and suggested a simple solution: covering the lower part of the glass with dark plastic. This meant that a dog inside was now hidden from the sight of other dogs in the main waiting room; this proved very effective and a permanent cover is in preparation. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.7 This flooring has coved and sealed edges to aid cleaning. Covering corners also protects against damage to the fabric of the building. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.8 It may be appropriate to examine some dogs on a table, while others are better approached on the floor. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.9 These kennels are arranged to provide the maximum kennel space with dogs not directly facing each other. The kennels are made of moulded plastic and are easily cleaned and less noisy and bright than metal cages. Each kennel has a labelled folder for patient notes and hospital forms, and a labelled slip lead which is cleaned between patients. If necessary, a towel or blanket can be placed over the kennel door to provide some privacy.
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1.10 Fleece bedding is a good cage liner. Purpose-made cushioned beds are easily cleaned. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.11 Two companion dogs kennelled together to reduce stress.
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1.12 Although this dog responded to hand-feeding by the nurse , he was more relaxed and happy when fed by his owner . (© Kate Chitty)
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1.13 The isolation area needs to be well labelled so that appropriate people enter. The SOP is displayed on the door to ensure that anyone entering follows the correct protocol. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.14 Isolation PPE in use. A hat will be donned prior to entering isolation. More extensive overalls and a mask may be warranted depending on disease risk.
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1.15 Collapsible crates can be very useful for providing additional kennelling and isolation facilities. Even the large crates take up little room when collapsed.
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1.16 Food bowls may be made of metal, ceramic or plastic. An upturned washing-up bowl can be used to raise a bowl for a dog used to feeding at height, if a bowl designed for the purpose is not available. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.17 A dog catcher. It is important that relevant staff know where to find this quickly when faced with an aggressive dog. A cat grabber can be used to pick up the lead of an aggressive dog. A pole syringe may be helpful in some cases. This is rarely required but is invaluable when faced with an extremely dangerous dog, allowing drugs to be injected from a safe distance and from behind a suitable barrier. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.18 This commercially available ‘dog park’ allows the lead to be hooked over it without having to remove it from the dog. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.19 Dogs may be lifted using a purpose-made stretcher or alternatives such as a blanket or duvet, as long as the material is capable of supporting the dog’s bodyweight. It is important to ensure there are enough staff to restrain the dog safely as it is lifted; in this case it would need more than the two nurses shown to ensure that the dog stayed on the stretcher. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.20 A range of commercially available animal ties and sandbags for animal positioning. A variety of shapes, sizes and weights of sandbag can be made from play sand, plastic bags of differing sizes and tape. These can be cleaned and disinfected between patients and are easily replaceable. (b, © Kate Chitty)
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1.21 The table on the right can be used as an operating table. Its height can be adjusted and it can be wheeled around. The radiography table can be unstable if a very large dog has to be positioned near the end. Placing the trolley table under the end of the radiography table provides greater stability as well as a larger area to help with positioning the dog. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.22 A bathing area is important for therapy and for cleaning prior to going home. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.23 Floor scales are suitable for large and small dogs. These scales can be used for smaller dogs; the mat stops the dog slipping. Scales are built into this consulting table; note the read-out on the wall above. (b, © Kate Chitty)
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1.24 A warm air blower. The attached ‘blanket’ can be used underneath anaesthetized or recumbent patients. The unit can also be used to blow warm air through wire cage fronts. An example of a heat pad that can be used under bedding to provide extra warmth. All heat pads must be used as per the manufacturer’s directions. Solid heat pads must be used with extreme care, as they have a tendency to overheat, even when fitted with a thermostat. Reflective heat blankets are very economical and work well placed over collapsed individuals. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.25 This ‘crash box’ is kept in the operating theatre in case of anaesthetic emergencies. The contents are labelled and are regularly checked and changed. Drug charts are on the lid of the box to avoid delay in checking doses. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.26 This caesarean section kit is stored with the incubator. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.27 This euthanasia kit contains all that is needed for a home visit, requiring only the addition of pentobarbital and a sedative. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.28 A range of muzzles and sizes. Choice will depend on several factors, including comfort for the dog, security for the handler and access to various parts of the face. Both fabric and basket-type muzzles are easily cleaned and disinfected between patients. A fabric muzzle can be used during a consultation, as it will only be worn for a short time. Basket-type muzzles allow the dog to pant and to drink, and so are better if the dog needs to spend a longer time wearing the muzzle. (b,c © Kate Chitty)
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1.29 With the vet kneeling, the dog does not feel threatened and can investigate the stethoscope before it is placed on its chest. (© Kate Chitty)
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1.30 Nurse clinics tend to be less formal and often involve trying to make dogs feel more happy about visits to the practice. (© Kate Chitty)
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