A research study conducted at Colorado State University supports what our vets see every day: in-home vet visits are significantly less stressful for dogs.
Just like humans, our furry friends can also suffer from the “white coat” effect – that uneasy feeling of panic and anxiety when being examined in a doctor’s office.
Veterinarian Dr. Jessica Quimby, DVM, Ph.D., published her findings in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association based on research her team conducted on a group of 30 companion dogs in Colorado. The study compared the readings of a dog’s major vital signs when taken at home by a vet and when taken in a traditional veterinary clinic to determine if an environment has an effect on dog’s stress levels during an exam.
Results of the Study
When dogs in the study were driven to and examined at a traditional Veterinary clinic, their blood pressure readings measured an average of 16% higher than when taken at home just 20 minutes before. The dog’s heart rates were also an average of 11% higher when taken in a vet clinic environment compared to readings taken at the dog’s home. Additionally, the number of dogs panting heavily in the clinic was a remarkable 63% higher than when a vet examined them at home.
Based on the results of their experiment, researchers concluded that when a dog’s vital signs such blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate (all physiological signs of stress) were elevated after being taken in a traditional vet clinic environment, that the dog was experiencing significantly more stress than when examined at home.
Why Should You Care About Higher Vital Sign Readings Caused By Stress?
Aside from the fact that you probably want to help your dog avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety during an exam, your vet will be able to get a more accurate snapshot of your pet’s health if his vital sign readings more closely resemble his daily state of health. Since our pets can’t describe their aches, pains, and other symptoms, vital sign readings can help vets catch underlying medical conditions early or diagnose “silent” symptoms such as heart disease and murmurs. For example, if your dog is stressed during an exam and his heart is beating too fast it can hide the sound of a heart murmur, which is the “swish” noise heard between heartbeats. If the beats are so fast and close together due to elevated stress, the vet can’t get an accurate reading and it may take longer to diagnose your pet’s condition.
Additionally, if your pet’s vital signs are abnormally high in a clinic setting, it’s important that your vet considers stress from transportation and environmental changes before a definitive diagnosis of medical illness is reached.
You can read the full journal article here to learn more about this research study.
If you’re interested in in-home veterinary care for your dog, Vets To Go has been providing at-home vet visits for dogs since 2009. For more information about our mobile veterinary services in the Calgary and Edmonton area, you can download our Welcome Kit or give our Client Services Team a call at 1-888-995-8387 with any questions you may have!
Quimby, Jessica (2015). Evaluation of the effects of hospital visit stress on physiologic variables in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Impact Factor: 1.67). 01/2015; 246(2):212-215. DOI: 10.2460/javma.246.2.212 Source: PubMed