Small Animal Restraint Michael Lavoie Veterinary Assistant Program Middlesex Community College 09/24/2012
Animal Handling and Restraint Animal Handling Skills-Professionalism and Safety • The public watches us to learn how to properly handle animals. • Being professional means being SAFE and HUMANE. • Good animal handling skills prevent staff from being injured. • Good animal handling skills reduce stress for the animal.
Examples of Safe Animal Handling: • Be aware of the special stressors for animals in the clinic setting. • The clinic is extremely chaotic for any • Many of our patients may have lived entirely outdoors and have not been handled or examined before. • Even the most social animal may exhibit aggression
Never put your face directly into the face of a dog or cat. • Do not move in behind or crowd around a dog. • Concentrate on the animal you are handling without being distracted by other activities. • NEVER sit on the floor while handling/examining a dog.
Restraint • Safe and effective animal handling requires a thorough understanding of the normal behavior and responses of each species. • Following is some general information on animal behavior and handling techniques. • There is no substitute, however, for careful observation and experience.
Important note: • If there is any doubt about the temperament of an animal-ASK FOR ASSISTANCE. • There are no extra points for being a 'hero'. • The safety of our staff and patients is most important!
Communication • Any animal exhibiting potentially aggressive behavior should have a kennel sign (CAUTION) posted to alert others who may be handling the animal. • You may see these placed in the file of the animal. • At Pieper Memorial or Pieper Olson these aggressive signs will pop-up on the computer screen.
Communication • Specific alerts or recommendations should be written on the sign and in the medical record to provide staff and other volunteers with as much information as possible when handling the animal.
Restraint or Control • The first rule to keep in mind when handling any kind of animal is that the least restraint is often the best restraint. • This does not mean that you give up your control, just that you use as little restraint as necessary while maintaining control of the situation. • Every animal and every situation is different so there are no hard and fast rules as to what method works best in which situation.
Before attempting to restrain an animal you should take a moment to allow the animal to becomecomfortable with you: • Crouch down so that you are on their level. • Avoid direct eye contact but maintain safe visual contact with the animal • Talk in soothing tones. • Try patting your leg or the ground, motioning the animal towards you.
Types of Restraint VERBAL RESTRAINT: • Many dogs know some commands or can at least recognize authority, even if the command is unfamiliar. • Also, soft quiet words can calm a frightened animal.
PHYSICAL RESTRAINT: TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT • The most common tool used to handle animals in the clinic is the leash. • Placed around a dog's neck it normally controls even the largest dog. • In the event a dog refuses to cooperate with a leash –carry him… if possible
Leashes • Leashes can be abused; never drag or strangle an animal with a leash • Pause and let the dog calm down and try again after reassuring her. • Sometimes a quick tug on the leash will encourage a fearful dog to walk.
Leashes • When handling cats, a leash should be used as a back-up in the event the cat should become frightened and resist restraint. • Make a figure-eight harness by looping the free end of a slip lead back through the metal ring.
Leashes • The looser loop is placed around the chest behind the cat’s front legs and the other loop placed around the neck with the metal ring/handle on top between the shoulders. • The harness should be put on at intake and can be left on the cat throughout their stay.
EVERY animal being transported or handled in the clinic must ALWAYS wear a slip-lead. • This includes puppies, cats and sedated animals. • It is too easy for a frightened animal to get loose and escape. • Animals presented on leash/collar should be transferred to a slip lead and the leash returned to the client so that it is not lost during the animal’s stay.
Your Hand • A very effective form of restraint, your hands are sensitive to the amount of pressure that is being exerted on the animal and can be quickly modified to the situation. • Although hands can be the most versatile, they are also the most vulnerable to injury.
Towels • A towel or blanket is a very useful tool for cats and small dogs. • A towel can be used to decrease an animal’s arousal by covering the head and body and can help protect from sharp claws.
Control or “Rabies” Pole • The control pole is used to safely handle extremely aggressive dogs. • Used appropriately it is an effective tool. • The control pole may further distress • If an animal is aggressive enough to warrant the use of a control pole an experienced staff member should be consulted for assistance as the animal will also be evaluated for chemical restraint options.
Nets • The net is the primary tool used to handle fractious cats or wildlife. • It allows for the safe handling and transfer of even the most aggressive small mammal. • Effective use of the net requires some training and practice. • If you need to handle a feral or fractious cat ask for assistance from a staff member.
Muzzles • Muzzles are used when a snappy or potentially aggressive dog must be handled. • There are nylon muzzles and plastic basket available. • A leash or strip of rolled gauze can be used as a temporary muzzle. • It is important that the muzzle be placed securely. • Even with a securely placed muzzle, appropriate handling must be used to prevent injury from an animal who resists.
Cat Muzzles • Muzzles designed for cats extend up to cover the eyes, reducing visual stimulation. • For some cats these can be very useful for calming the animal and helping to protect the handler from injury
Drugs • For animals who are too aggressive or stressed to handle safely for procedures, sedation and/or general anesthesia may be necessary to allow treatment. • If you are unable to handle an animal, notify a staff member to determine whether sedation is appropriate.
Credo: Never Let Go! • The place where correct use of restraint is the most critical is when two people are handling the animal. • This could be to perform a physical exam, administer anesthetic or to give medications. • The "holder" is the person whose job it is to restrain the animal in such a way that the procedure can be accomplished with the least amount of stress to both handlers and animal.
Credo: Never Let Go! • The specific amount of restraint used to control the animal is the key to safety for the handlers and comfort for the animal. • Too much restraint can cause the animal to fight back, too little restraint can result in the handler or others being injured or in the animal escaping.
Handling • Before handling the animal get his/her attention. • Call the pet by name and encourage him/her to come to you. • If the pet doesn't come, slowly approach from the front. • Never surprise the animal by approaching from behind. • Extend your hand, palm down.
Let the animal sniff your hand, then slowly move your hand to touch the side of the face then stroke the top of the head. • If the owner is holding the pet, don’t take the pet from their arms. • Animals may be protective of their owners and may bite if they feel you are threatening their owner.
Lifting a Dog • To pick up a dog to place it on the table, put one arm in front of the of the animals chest and the other either behind the rear legs, at the level of the stifles or under the abdomen and lift in a "scooping" motion. • If the animal has a history that indicates abdominal disease, avoid lifting it under the abdomen as it may cause pain.
Lifting a Dog • A large dog may require 2 people to lift. • One person lifts behind the front legs and the other under the abdomen.
Lifting a Dog • Decide BEFORE picking up the animal if it will be placed in sternal or lateral recumbency and if lateral, if the legs will be directed toward or away from the holders.
Getting An Animal Out of a Cage • Many animals are so happy to get out of a cage that they will leap without looking. • To remove those eager pets, as you open the cage door insert your other hand into the cage to keep the animal from leaping to the floor. • Place one arm in front of the of the animals chest and the other either behind the rear legs or under the abdomen to lift them out of the cage.
Getting An Animal Out of a Cage • To remove a cat, you can hold the scruff of the neck instead of placing a hand in front of the chest but hold the cat's weight by lifting the rear, not by lifting by the scruff. • Animals who are frightened and don't want to come out of a cage can be difficult to handle.
Handling animals • Animals that are a danger to you or themselves can be handled in a few ways: • Throw a towel over the head of cats and small dogs, then grasp the scruff of the neck through the towel, lifting the rear end with a hand or arm behind the rear legs to "scoop" them out of the cage.
Carrying a Cat or Small Dog • The animal should be carried gently with minimal restraint but you should carry the animal in a position that allows you to increase the amount of restraint instantaneously.
This method shown below shows the animal's rear quarters are cradled in the handler's arm and the front legs are loosely griped with the same hand. • The other hand is free to pet and stroke the cat's head but can also quickly grab the zygomatic arches to control the head if the animal attempts to escape.
Cat's will try to hide when frightened. • You can carry a cat with one hand under the hind quarters and the other holding the scruff of the neck, letting the cat hide it's head.
Restraint • More is NOT better. • Work with the animal in the position that the animal finds most comfortable yet provides you adequate exposure to do what you need to do. • The LEAST amount of restraint that is needed should be applied.
"Talk to the animals" Many dogs and cats can be comforted by being talked to in a quiet, soothing voice. • What you say is not important...the tone of voice is.
The client should not be the one to restrain their animal. • A large number of lawsuits filed against veterinarians are by the owners who have been injured by their own animals. • The owner can talk to and comfort the animal and can be within sight of the pet although occasionally it is better to examine the animal away from the owner.
Early application of a muzzle actually reduces the need for additional restraint. • The need to apply muzzle should be explained to the owner in advance. • Once the muzzle is in place the animals often "give up" and stop struggling.
Muzzles • The end of the muzzle can be closed (basket-style) or open. • They can be made of leather, plastic or cloth. • The plastic and cloth muzzles are easiest to clean between patients. • Leather muzzles are difficult to clean between use and the leather gets stiff from saliva.
The small muzzles used for cats cover the end of the face and the eyes. • Fractious cats are much easier to handle when they cannot see the handler. • They can be made of made of cloth or leather muzzles when being used as a hood.
Applying the muzzle • There are two ways to apply a muzzle: • If the animal is aggressive it may be easier to get the muzzle on by approaching from the rear and quickly applying the muzzle over the nose and mouth.
If the animal is fearful, I prefer to apply the muzzle from the front so they can see me approaching. • The basket style muzzles are easier to apply if the animals mouth is open (trying to bite) because this style is wider.
Home-made Muzzles • If a muzzle is not available a length of roll gauze can be used to create a muzzle. • The gauze should NOT be stretchy (don't use "Cling" gauze). • As the gauze is not very strong it should be doubled to increase strength.
The length must be adequate to wrap around the muzzle at least twice, then tie behind the ears.