Okaw Veterinary Clinic

140 W. Sale
Tuscola, IL 61953



We are Certified in Low Stress Handling

What does that Mean?


Grooming with treats, Low Stress Handling - Okaw Vet ClinicMy staff and I completed the certification program in low stress handling for veterinary practice. What does this mean? This is a multi lecture, demonstration and self test course of 16 teaching hours, that each of my staff members and I completed and passed. This course greatly enhanced our knowledge in the most kind and least upsetting techniques of holding, treating, and approaching dogs and cats. This certification, developed and evaluated by the late Dr. Sophia Yin, insures to you the pet owner, that all of the staff knows the best way to handle your pet that is pet friendly. These skills are used every day, with every patient, in every visit.   

I took the course and passed certification because I feel it is essential for the doctor to know the best way to handle patients. The extensive education in brewing fear and aggression is so important to keep the stress of exams low for our patients. When we miss those signs, that is the time when the pets struggle, fight and even attempt to bite. I have a much deeper respect for my staff in what they know and are able to do in a kind, minimal restraint method. There are easy variations to the techniques that they already know that has many more cats relaxed for exams and vaccinations, and that dogs taking rewards during and ear exam.

Low stress handling - pet friendly handling is what I and my staff have been doing for years. The certification raises our knowledge and credibility ever more. My clinic is a part of the change in veterinary medicine to more pet centered practice. By having this certification,it ensures that my staff is well educated and able to do the techniques. Most importantly the staff has also completed veterinary behavior education to also recognize anxiety and aggression before it erupts.This is essential for a safe and calm exam. Pets can get hurt when struggling. Calling in the reinforcements of more assistants is not good for your pet and is a big part of increasing that fear that leads to aggression. There is a better and easier way.

When you take your pet in for care, ask if the staff has learned low stress handling. The low stress certification program is very new; we are one of the first practices nationwide to pass the course. You practice may not be certified, but ask what they do to decrease the fear,timidness, and dread your pet feels when it goes to the vet. If your clinic has been using low stress techniques it is likely your pet likes to go to the clinic. If so, wonderful!!!! Tell that staff you appreciate what they do to make the veterinary visit good for your pet.

Puppy's first exam with treats - Okaw Vet ClinicChange is happening in veterinary medicine but it is slow. You the pet owner can drive change in the profession more quickly by asking for low stress - pet friendly handling. Traditional methods of holding and taking a pet to the back for treatment are steadfast due to our liability insurance companies telling us how we needed to practice. So for years veterinarians have been told by lawyers and insurance executives that going to "the back" and have more people hold the pet to prevent the veterinarian from being injured was the way to do things. Actually this was a major cause of the fear and aggression as we behaviorist discovered. While we do not want the owner to hold their own pets -owners sue the veterinarian for injury and win - removing some pets from the sight of the owner increases fear and thereby increases struggling and aggression. A low stress practice would likely allow the owner to be present if they wish and be in sight of the pet to relieve any anxiety the pet may have from separation.

So how does a practice hold a pet for injections and not have the pet turn to bite? We use small sharp needles that do not hurt as much; we use muzzles loaded with peanut butter, or baby food to make them yummy and distracting as I examine an infected ear. I apply novacaine cream to areas to decrease the pain BEFORE examining a sore area. My staff offers calming pheromones in the waiting area so your dog or can will relax before the check up begins. There are many more techniques, but I hope you get the idea. We put our patients first - think of their needs physically and mentally before pursuing our need to get samples or into treatment. Yes our exams take a little longer but after a visit or two the dogs are dragging the owner in the door and hopping right up on the lift table. Cats go into their carriers because we educated our clients on how to leave it out and help the cat like it.

Dr Sally J. Foote