How stressful is the visit to the veterinary clinic for the dog?
Assessment of dogs’ stress levels at the veterinary clinic is important for dog welfare as well as the safety of the personnel. But how could this be done in a feasible way?
In this study from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, dog stress and pain were assessed by both the dog owner, the test leader, the veterinary nurse and the veterinarian. The results were then compared with the dog’s reactions in different behavioural tests inside and outside the clinic.
Results in general showed good agreement between the different assessors. The most relevant behaviour test was social contact, as dogs assessed to be more stressed were less likely to engage in social contact with an unfamiliar person. Dogs were also more willing to play and eat a treat outside the veterinary clinic compared to inside the clinic, implying that dogs experienced being inside the clinic as more negative. In addition, the dog owner responded to questionnaires about the dog-owner relationship, and comparisons indicated that the type of relationship the owner has with the dog may influence the dog's behavior during the clinical examination. This suggests that there is potential for a system to be developed to assess the extent to which the dog is stressed in the clinic.
Link to the publication
Ann-Kristina Lind, Eva Hydbring-Sandberg, Björn Forkman, Linda J. Keeling. Assessing stress in dogs during a visit to the veterinary clinic: Correlations between dog behavior in standardized tests and assessments by veterinary staff and owners. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 2017. Volume 17, 24 – 31.