These veterinary hospitals turn pets’ despair into delight with smart design features that help to create a low-stress environment for all. From reception areas to boarding runs, gather some ideas and consider how to make your own practice less fearful—and more fun.
Separated reception areas
A stone and glass fireplace separates the dog and cat waiting alcoves at Cleveland Road Animal Hospital in Wooster, Ohio. These areas glow with natural light and let clients choose the most comfortable seating location for them and their pets.
Cat and dog parlors
At NorthPaws Veterinary Center in Greenville, Rhode Island, separate cat (top) and dog parlors feature warm lighting and comfortable furniture to create a calm, home-like atmosphere.
The four exam rooms at Terra Vista Animal Hospital in Rancho Cucamonga, California, open into a “pod vestibule.” Located right off of reception, this area uses indirect lighting to soothe pets’ anxiety—and the scale alcove allows team members to weigh patients quickly and easily before ushering them straight into one of the adjacent exam rooms.
Feline exercise and quiet cottages
Boarded cats at The Pet Hotel at Cleveland Road Animal Hospital have space to play, climb and gaze outside in the feline exercise room, which features an oversized cat tree and multilevel wall perches. A variety of housing options includes 14 “quiet cottages” with small, medium and large options to put fearful pets of any size at ease—they still have a window view, but without all the traffic of the main boarding area.
Clint Sprunger, Birdeye
Large and small dog play areas
At Boca Park Animal Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, two canine play areas—one for small dogs and one for large dogs—sit where the former restaurant’s outdoor seating area was. The glassed-in areas and play equipment give dogs room to run safely and enjoy the outdoors.
Cat exam room
Boca Park Animal Hospital has an exam room reserved especially for feline patients. It includes a tabletop scale, plenty of floor space, a climbing post and a facial pheromone device plugged into the wall (not pictured) to soothe cats during veterinary visits.
Large animal exam room
This designated large pet exam room at Morningside Animal Hospital in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, has a lift table as well as plenty of floor space to accommodate patients’ preferences during an exam. A nearby side exit door lets clients and pets leave the building without walking back through reception.
Boarding reception area
Canine and feline boarding spaces at Veterinary Medical Center of St. Lucie County in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, are physically and acoustically separated by the boarding reception area, complete with sound-sealed windows, to reduce pet anxiety. There’s also an acoustical door that separates the boarding wing from the clinical zones.
The Grand Pet Resort and Salon in Fort Worth, Texas, features real-life runs for canines, each enclosed with a glass cage door. These are a nice variation from the typical long, narrow runs that can cause dogs stress. Though it’s best to use sealed doors for more noise control, even with open doors, canine visitors enjoy increased space with windows, plenty of natural light and odor control—all of which can make a huge difference in dogs’ anxious behaviors.
Heather Lewis is a partner at Animal Arts, a veterinary design firm based in Boulder, Colo.