Why Puppies Squirm

Puppies and kittens squirm for what seems to be no reason at all during veterinarians’ examinations.

Ear exams.

Eye exams.

Checking parts in which there is no pain, no discomfort, no invasion of the body.

All puppies, Willie included, squirm during their doctor visits, until they learn that a little restraint is no big deal.

All puppies, Willie included, squirm during their doctor visits, until they learn that a little restraint is no big deal.

Why? They have to learn that a little restraint is not a threat.

As we mentioned in a recent article, the more visits a young dog or cat has, the more at ease he is going to be with each visit. If those instances are non-medical and non-interventional, the pet’s confidence grows with each arrival. He soon begins to say, “These guys are OK. They pet me, give me treats and say really nice things to me.”

If you have a new puppy or kitten, notice during the next appointment that just being held to get a good look at ear canals and eardrums causes a sometimes-dramatic response. You may believe that it’s the speculum on the otoscope causing discomfort, but it isn’t. In fact, the speculum doesn’t go very deep and is simply used to straighten the ear canal a little for a better view of the eardrum.

Then, during the eye exam, notice that the ophthalmoscope doesn’t even touch the body. However, having to be still for almost sixty seconds can seem like torture to a four-legged youngster.

Also notice that with each examination there is less and less resistance from the patient as he matures and comes to understand that, “Gee, holding my head in one position is really not much different than a hug!”

If you have both a new pet and an older pet, you will also notice the contrast. Except for those individual animals who are skittish, nervous and unnaturally afraid, a routine well-patient examination is generally a non-event.

To encourage young dogs and cats to relax, we stroke them, give them treats, and talk to them in a high-pitched voice. Dogs interpret the squeaky voice sounds as happy tones, and think, “Well, if he’s happy, I should be happy too!”

Watch your pet’s doctor as he examines your pet. I’m pretty sure you will find his comforting techniques fascinating.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.
MMSQUIRM

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