Why Owners Should Not Hold Their Own Pets During Veterinary Exams
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

Q. Why is it recommended that I not hold my own pet during an exam?
A. Veterinarian holding a dog during the examThere are several reasons why it is better to have one of the clinic staff, rather than you, hold your pet during veterinary exams and procedures:

Even though your pet may never have been aggressive or bit anyone, in a veterinarian's office, he is in a strange environment, with strange smells and sounds, not to mention the sight of other animals. He may be up on the exam table with strange people prodding him (and a bit nervous, since you have taught him he is not allowed on the table!). The procedure may be slightly painful, or during the exam, the veterinarian may find an unexpected painful area you were not aware of, such as a hot spot. In short, in this situation, predicting any animal's behavior with 100% reliability is not possible.

Owner standing in front of pet while Vet & Assistant hold the pet properly

If you are holding your pet, he cannot see you. Your pet will probably be more relaxed if you are in front of him where he can see you and you can reassure him. We have seen pets continually squirm while trying to see their owners. Once the owner stood in front of the animal, the squirming stopped.

The staff are trained in how to hold the animal so no one will be injured. We do not want you injured in the event your pet moves suddenly or bites or scratches. Neither do we want your pet injured if he tries to jump off the table. Finally, we do not want the veterinarian injured. Your veterinarian's hands are as important to him or her as a musician's would be. They are really finely honed diagnostic and surgical tools. Your veterinarian can not risk having a permanent, or even short-term injury.

Sometimes, especially with cats, we have found the less restraint the better. In these cases, no one 'holds' the animal, although scratching the top of the head, etc., may help keep her still.

Finally, both legal and safety experts agree that it is best if the owner is not responsible for restraining the animal. Therefore, your veterinarian may be legally liable if you are injured on the clinic or hospital premises.

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Reprinted from PetEducation.com.