Why vets shouldn’t avoid treat feeding in the clinic

The first blog post – or wait! My very first attempt at a blog post was actually as an invited guest, although I never told my host that…! I recently wrote a scientific paper about my current obsession in the field of animal behaviour management and was asked to present it to the readers of Dr. Sophia Yin’s blog.

My current obsession, thanks for asking, is ways of preventing and reducing fear in animals visiting the veterinary practice. One such tool is to simply feed delicious treats to animals before, during, and after procedures, both as a distraction and to promote desired learning, or re-learning. Rather than learning that nasty things happen at the vet’s, the animal learns that you get wonderful treats – this is called counterconditioning.

My problem was that vets I consulted with wouldn’t dare use this technique in case they needed to sedate animals at any point. They would rather stay away from treats altogether – rather safe than sorry, as it were. From my horizon, it was a choice between two rather terrible options, or so it would seem. On the one hand: successful counterconditioning – contented animals that risk dying from complications associated with anesthesia. On the other hand: miserable and potentially dangerous animals that run no particular increased risk when sedated. Continue reading “Why vets shouldn’t avoid treat feeding in the clinic”