A cross-sectional survey of UK veterinary practices to determine prevalence of patient stress-reducing and welfare-enhancing approaches believed to be undertaken in companion animal practice

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Abstract

Low stress animal handling approaches to veterinary inpatient care have been recommended to reduce the adverse effects of veterinary visits on patient health and wellbeing and improve staff safety. Evidence examining the utilization of low stress handling techniques (LSHT) within the UK is limited. The aim of this study was to identify the reported prevalence of compliance with LSHT guidelines recommended by key organisations which promote welfare-friendly veterinary practice.
A cross-sectional, observational, descriptive online survey was utilized. The survey was distributed by email to all veterinary practices meeting the inclusion criteria and consenting to being contacted for market research purposes. Using 4-point Likert-type questions, veterinary professionals were asked to identify how often they believed their practice complied with 74 LSHT guidelines across seven themes. The recommendations were derived from four reputable welfare organisations.
Of 1,012 contactable veterinary practices, 91 (9%) responded. Based on number of statements within a theme that most respondents answered always/regularly. Practices appeared to utilize LSHT’s in the practice waiting room, consultations, inpatient care and practice ethos. Less adherence to LSHT were shown in the wards, updating of patient records and in client education. Lack of provision of client literature was a noticeable reported weakness across a range of indices and topics. Practice membership of the International Society for Feline Medicine ‘Cat friendly’ scheme had small but significant positive effects across several themes.
In conclusion, the apparent utilization of LSHT, facilities and equipment varies across dimensions and potential explanations for this are discussed in the context of animal welfare.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Early online date21 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2021

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